PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to consider historical shifts in the mobilisation of the concept of radical in relation to Australian schooling.Design/methodology/approachTwo texts composed at two distinct points in a 40-year period in Australia relating to radicalism and education are strategically juxtaposed. These texts are: the first issue of the Radical Education Dossier (RED, 1976), and the Attorney General Department’s publication Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in Australia (PVERA, 2015). The analysis of the term radical in these texts is influenced by Raymond Williams’s examination of particular keywords in their historical and contemporary contexts.FindingsAcross these two texts, radical is deployed as adjective for a process of interrogating structured inequalities of the economy and employment, and as individualised noun attached to the “vulnerable” young person.Social implicationsReading the first issue of RED alongside the PVERA text suggests the consequences of the reconstitution of the role of schools, teachers and the re-positioning of certain young people as “vulnerable”. The juxtaposition of these two texts surfaces contemporary patterns of the therapeutisation of political concerns.Originality/valueA methodological contribution is offered to historical sociological analyses of shifts and continuities of the role of the school in relation to society.
History of Education Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 26, 2019
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