1st Edition

The (Dis)Order of U.S. Schooling Zygmunt Bauman and Education for an Ambivalent World

By Eric Ferris Copyright 2023

    This book critically interrogates the function of schooling in the United States of America using the writings of sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. Asking whether the function is to produce citizens, workers, a combination of the two, or something altogether different, it argues that the designs of schooling are part of a carefully crafted ordering, illustrated via an analysis of the ways in which schooling introduces students to various forms of coercion and seduction that socialize students in particular ways: ways that support an order.

    By engaging with the prolific and insightful works of one of the most prominent social thinkers of the 21st century, this book considers schooling and its contributions to order. Be they solid or liquid modern ordering mechanisms, ordering through repression and seduction, or supporting ordering through the creation of boundaries separating an “orderly inside” from its “disorderly outside,” schools imperfectly support the construction of order and in doing so, privilege some representations and individuals over others. To order is to harness ambivalence and steer it in directions that privilege the “in” group at the expense of the “out” group; and schools, from the curriculum they teach to the values and ideas they promote, are desirable captive marketplaces instrumental in steering this ambivalence.

    The author ultimately suggests that the function of schools, whether recognized or not, are not so much to educate students to be free thinkers, but rather to be orderly cogs in a particular functional social machine. As such, the book will be of interest to faculty, scholars, and postgraduate-level students with interests in the sociology of education, schooling, sociology, and social theory.

    PrefaceOn Thinking with Bauman  1. Introduction  2. Order Mark 1: Normativity, Repression, and Surveillance in Schools  3. Liquid Modernity and Schooling  4. Order Mark 2: Seduction  5. 1619 or 1776: Pluralism or Nationalism  6. Culture of Conformism (Culture … To Be Cultured)  7. The Outsider, the Other, the Stranger: Legislating Out (Transgender) Difference  8. Educating for Ambivalence: Unsteady Education for Unsteady Times


    Eric Ferris is a High School Mathematics Teacher. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA.

    “Immensely textured, The (Dis)Order of U.S. Schooling affords the reader permission to sense our contemporary times offering a systematic intervention into Zygmunt Bauman’s considerable oeuvre and examines its potential for the study of Education […]. Hope for a self-reflexive, and self-mediated, Educational Institution may be on the horizon if Ferris and Bauman are taken seriously by activists, young scholars, by teachers longing to process the harms invoked by Institutions of separation, and critical researchers looking to embolden their understanding of power’s margins.” - Matthew Myers, Review of Education, Pedagogy and Culture in Society