Social Epistemology, the Reason of “Reason” and the Curriculum Studies


  • Thomas Popkewitz University of Wisconsin-Madison



Curriculum Studies, the Political of Schooling, Knowledge/Power, School Reforms, the Alchemy of School Subjects.


Not-with-standing the current topoi of the Knowledge Society, a particular “fact” of modernity is that power is exercised less through brute force and more through systems of reason that order and classify what is known and acted on.  This article explored the system of reason that orders and classifies what is talked about, thought and act on in schooling.  The study of the system of reason in schooling is framed as social epistemology to consider the historically ordered, relational and socially embeddedness of knowledge as the political.  This entails exploring the “reason” of science and schooling as to change social conditions that changes people. Further the school subjects of mathematics and music education are explored as an alchemy, the use of translation tools that remake disciplinary knowledge into the school curriculum.  The alchemy of the curriculum is paradoxical.  It embodies cultural theses about kinds of people that inscribe differences and divisions in the name of inclusion and equity.


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Author Biography

Thomas Popkewitz, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thomas S. Popkewitz is full professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and holds a Ph.D.h.c. in four European universities. His research is about politics of knowledge as its relates with the systems of reason that govern educational policy and research related to pedagogy and the issues of social inclusion and exclusion, focusing on research paradigms, the changing terrains of knowledge about teaching and teacher education, and reforms in school subjects. He has conducted historical, ethnographic and comparative studies of national educational reforms and policies in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Southern Africa, and the U.S. Some of his books are: A Political Sociology of Educational Reform (New York: Teachers College Press, 1991), Struggling for the soul. The Politics of Schooling and the Construction of the Teacher (New York: Teachers College Press, 1998), Cosmopolitanism and the Age of School Reform. Science, Education, and Making Society for Making the Child (New York: Routledge, 2008), The Child, the Citizen, and the Promised Land: Comparative Visions in the Development of Schooling in the Long 19th Century, edited in collaboration with D. Tröhler & D.F. Labaree (New York: Routledge, 2011), “Reason” of Schooling: Historicizing Curriculum Studies, Pedagogy and Teacher Education: New York: Routledge., 2014).




How to Cite

Popkewitz, T. (2014). Social Epistemology, the Reason of “Reason” and the Curriculum Studies. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22, 22.



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