An analysis of the reality of authoritarianism in pedagogy: A critique based on the work of Deleuze, Guattari and Bhaskar

David R Cole, Mehri Mirzaei Rafe


When analysing authoritarianism in pedagogy, one is immediately faced with a question: How real is the authoritarianism that one is describing? There is an inevitable «loop» or mode of reciprocation between the object of investigation; i.e. authoritarianism, and one’s own subjective projections about what authoritarianism is, how one has felt it in the past, and connected it to education. Certainly, societies in the West have, in general, changed in their attitudes to pedagogic authoritarianism since the 1960s and 1970s, perhaps under the influence of the mores of post-War, mass education. This article takes two paths of explication to these changes, one through the combined work of Deleuze and Guattari, the other through the critical realism of Roy Bhaskar. The theoretical and intellectual work of Deleuze and Guattari points to and makes plain the ways in which authoritarianism in education is continually under threat and being undermined by a myriad of «minor» forces, for example, exemplified by the relations between the authoritarian teacher and his/her students. In contrast, the critical realism of Roy Bhaskar enacts a critical and realist investigation into authoritarianism in pedagogy, as the name of his approach implies. The point of this analysis is not to simply compare the two approaches, but to try to understand the reality of the authoritarianism in pedagogy that we are presently confronted with in variant degrees and at different levels.


pedagogy; critique of capitalism; subjectivity; schizophrenia; time; educational change/reform and norms; critical realism

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