Critical Realism for Marxist Sociology of Education

By Grant Banfield

© 2016 – Routledge

194 pages | 8 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415629065
pub: 2015-09-21

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About the Book

This book offers a critical realist intervention into the field of Marxist Sociology of Education. Critical realism, as developed by British philosopher Roy Bhaskar, is known for its capacity to serve as a conceptual underlabourer to applied fields like education. Indeed, its success in clarifying and resolving thorny issues of educational theory and practice is now well established. Given critical realism’s sympathetic Marxist origins, its productive and critical engagement with Marxism has an even longer history. To date there has been little sustained attention given to the application of critical realism to Marxist educational praxis. The book addresses this gap in existing scholarship.

Its conceptual ground clearing of the field of Marxist Sociology of Education centres on two problematics well-known in the social sciences: naturalism and the structure-agency relation. Marxist theory from the days of Marx to the present is shown to also be haunted by these problematics. This has resulted in considerable tension around the meaning and nature of, for example, reform, revolution, class determinism and class struggle. With its emergence in the 1970s as a child of Western Marxism, the field continues to be an expression of these tensions that seriously limit its transformative potential. Addressing these issues and offering conceptual clarification in the interests of revolutionary educational practice, Critical Realism for Marxist Sociology of Education provides a new perspective on education which will be of interest to students, scholars and practitioners alike.


Meticulously researched and cogently argued, Critical Realism for Marxist Sociology of Education is an outstanding work of scholarship that makes a powerful case for the centrality of Bhaskar's work in the field of critical education by advancing a critical realist Marxist method and revolutionary Marxism. This is one of the most important contributions to Marxist education in years and will stand as a classic work for years to come.

Peter McLaren, Author of Capitalists and Conquerors and Pedagogy of Insurrection

Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies, Chapman University

Table of Contents

Preface Introduction: Critical Realism, Marxism and Education 1. Marxism: Philosophy, Science and Revolution 2. Western Marxism: From Marx to Marxism 3. The Old and the New: Stirrings from the Long Calm 4. Critical Realist Tools for Marxism and Education 5. The Problem of Naturalism 6. The Problem of Structure and Agency 7. Conclusion: Critical Realism for Revolutionising Practice

About the Author

Grant Banfield is currently an academic worker at the Flinders University of South Australia. He researches and writes on the application of Marxian social theory to educational praxis and intellectual work. He is an editorial advisor of the Journal of Critical Education Policy Studies and founding convenor of the Australian Sociological Association’s thematic group, Social Activism.

About the Series

New Studies in Critical Realism and Education (Routledge Critical Realism)

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General