Neoliberalism, Pedagogy and Human Development

Exploring Time, Mediation and Collectivity in Contemporary Schools

By Michalis Kontopodis

© 2012 – Routledge

138 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138775374
pub: 2014-03-27
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Hardback: 9780415516761
pub: 2012-07-26
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About the Book

In most Western developed countries, adult life is increasingly organized on the basis of short-term work contracts and reduced social security funds. In this context it seems that producing efficient job-seekers and employees becomes the main aim of educational programs for the next generation. Through case studies of young people from urban and countryside marginalized populations in Germany, USA and Brazil, this book investigates emerging educational practices and takes a critical stance towards what can be seen as neoliberal educational politics. It investigates how mediating devices such as CVs, school reports, school files, photos and narratives shape the ways in which those marginalized students reflect about their past as well as imagine their future. By building on process philosophy and time theory, post-structuralism, as well as on Vygotsky's psychological theory, the analysis differentiates between two discrete modes of human development: development of concrete skills (potential development) and development of new societal relations (virtual development, which is at the same time individual and collective). The book outlines an innovative relational account of learning and human development which can prove of particular importance for the education of marginalized students in today's globalized world.


"In this ambitious and provocative book, Michalis Kontopodis explores how temporal dimensions of development are enacted through culturally mediated social practices, highlighting the links between memory, imagination and collaboration. By drawing on everyday lives of marginalized students variously positioned within their unique cultures yet subjected to the abiding power of neoliberal educational regimes, this approach breaks with the tradition that assumes a position of a neutral observer. In its activist critical stance that interrogates political contexts of human development, the book exemplifies a novel and much needed trend in socio-cultural studies that itself helps to enact new possibilities for the future." - Anna Stetsenko, City University of New York, Co-editor of Voices within Vygotsky's Non-classical Psychology: Past, Present, Future (Nova Science, 2002).

"Excellent book which moves brilliantly from the analysis of local schools and concrete student cases to a timely discussion of global educational politics and dynamics". - Christoph Wulf, Free University Berlin, Author of Educational Anthropology (LIT) and Educational Science: Hermeneutics, Empirical Research, Critical Theory (Waxmann), Editor of Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft

"Trained both in educational psychology and in anthropology, the author provides fantastic information about German, US and Brazilian educational projects while exploring students' personal dramas and developmental trajectories. The analysis sheds new light on existing Vygotskian scholarship and interpretation and opens new paths in the education of urban and rural marginalized populations." - Erineu Foerste, Federal University of Espírito Santo, Brazil, Author of Parceria na Formação de Professores (CORTEZ, 2005) and Co-editor of Projeto Político-Pedagógico da Educação do Campo (PRONERA, 2008).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Looking to the Future 1. Learning, Development and Technologies of the Self: Dealing with Critical Situations and Marginalization in Germany 2. "Either Now or Never": The Developmental Temporalities of School-to Work Transition. Interlude: "I Can’t Begin Anything with This" 3. Freedom Writers, California, 1994 – 1998: When Meta-Reflection Creates Radically New Possibilities for Learning and Development at School 4. Doing Collective Pasts and Futures: Pedagogia da Terra in the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement in Brazil, Espírito Santo. Instead of an Epilogue: The Dynamics of Learning and Development as Becoming. Appendix.

About the Author

Dr. Michalis Kontopodis is Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at Roehampton University, UK. He studied psychology in Greece, France, Poland and Germany and completed his PhD at the Faculty of Education and Psychology of Free University Berlin, Germany. He worked at Humboldt University Berlin from 2007 to 2010, and was a visiting scholar at City University New York and at New York University in 2009. He was also invited as a visiting professor at Pontificia Universidade Católica de São Paolo, and at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2010. He worked as an assistant professor at the Department of Research & Theory in Education, VU University of Amsterdam and has also been external coordinator of the Summer University in Cultural-Historical Psychology at Moscow State University of Psychology and Education since 2010.

His research interests concern marginalization, immigration, urban and countryside education, neoliberalism and biopedagogies, as well as institutional memory and digital media. His publications include special issues of the journals Outlines: Critical Practice Studies; Memory Studies; Science, Technology & Human Values and ETHOS, as well as three co-edited books, most importantly Children, Development and Education: Cultural, Historical, Anthropological Perspectives, with Springer (2011, co-edited with C. Wulf & B. Fichtner). Further information is provided at

About the Series

Routledge Research in Education

This series aims to present the latest research from right across the field of education. It is not confined to any particular area or school of thought and seeks to provide coverage of a broad range of topics, theories and issues from around the world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Aims & Objectives
EDUCATION / Philosophy & Social Aspects
EDUCATION / Professional Development