Chapter 1

Education and Politics

Ayşe Ottekin Demirbolat


This chapter analyses the relationship between education and democracy from a structural viewpoint, and examines the relations and interactions of education and politics with each other, with other institutions and with the whole social structure. The relations of educational and political institutions with the social whole are examined in terms of infrastructural – namely, natural, demographic and economic – and super structural – namely, cultural and institutional – factors and their interactions, which Marx assumed to exist in his analysis of the operation and evolution of societies. Inasmuchas Marx’s macro scheme is not adequate to explain specific operational and evolutional processes in specific economic and social formations, it needs to be complemented by more differentiated ones. Following the lead provided by Marx, five elements are posited as constituting social formations (Kolakowski, 1989; Bottomore, 1981): production forces, production relations, sociopolitical system, formed on the bases of these two, intellectual structure of society, and its mentality, determined by the socio-political system and various ideologies. </p><p> Natural, demographic and economic factors, which are dealt with as infrastructural ones, are seen as the basis of the “production forces” and production relations. Cultural and institutional factors, which are taken as super structural factors are considered as the reflection of the “socio- political system”, “intellectual structure of the members of society” and “various ideologies” formed by the structure. At the institutional and cultural factors dimension, the position and function of an educational or political institution, which are different from other social organizations, are deemed important for a sound understanding of the education-democracy relationship. The chapter particularly maintains that the relationship between education and democracy can be conceived differently at the level of states and governments, and governments may not always remain sensitive in their commitment to the basic characteristics of the state. </p><p> Education, above all, is an instrument that ensures the continuity of the state. This instrumental relationship in democracies is at least as important as that in autocratic, theocratic or totalitarian states. Yet, it may not be as simple, clear or functional as it is in authoritarian regimes because in countries still undergoing democratization, the elected who have not internalized democracy may easily convert the education-state relationship into a government-education relationship. Thus, the natural relationship between the educational institutions and the state may turn into one that threatens democracy, pointing in a backward direction. If such a process is initiated by the elected rulers, democracy will become even more unprotected and defenseless, as it will be used as a tool for purposes other than democracy. </p><p> In conclusion, unless knowledge and awareness about democracy are communicated well and the governed and the governing are educated as true democrats, a democratic political regime cannot be managed according to its main principles in a society. For this reason, the importance of educational institutions in terms of democracy should always be kept in mind.

Total Pages: 3-19 (17)

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