1 Basil Bernstein The thinker and the field Rob Moore
2 Basil Bernstein Basil Bernstein: the thinker and the field provides a comprehensive introduction to the work of Basil Bernstein, demonstrating his distinctive contribution to social theory by locating it within the historical context of the development of the sociology of education and sociology in Britain. Although Bernstein had a particular interest in education, he did not see himself as a sociologist of education alone. By exploring Bernstein s intellectually collaborative character and the evolving system of ideas, drawing upon anthropology and linguistics, the originality of Bernstein s contribution to the social sciences can be truly identified. Rob Moore s text offers a provocative and challenging account of both Bernstein and British sociology and education, approaching Bernstein s work as a complex model of intertwining ideas rather than a single theory. Continued interest in Bernstein s work has opened up a worldwide network of scholarship and Moore considers contemporary research alongside classical sources in Durkheim and Marx to provide an historical analysis of the fields of British sociology and the sociology of education, pinpointing Bernstein s position within them. The book is organized into two main parts: The field: Background and beginnings Durkheim, cosmology and education. The problematic: The structure of pedagogic discourse Bernstein and theory Bernstein and research The pedagogic device. Written by a leading authority in the field, this text will be valuable reading for postgraduate students of sociology and education, along with active researchers and their research students. Rob Moore is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge, UK.
4 Basil Bernstein The thinker and the field Rob Moore
5 First published 2013 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor and Francis Group, an informa business 2013 R. Moore The right of R. Moore to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him/her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Moore, Rob, 1946 Basil Bernstein : the thinker and the field / Rob Moore. p. cm. ISBN (hardback) ISBN (ebook) 1. Bernstein, Basil B. 2. Educational sociology. 3. Education Philosophy. I. Title. LB880.B462M dc ISBN: (hbk) ISBN: (ebk) Typeset in Galliard by FiSH Books Ltd, Enfield
6 Contents Acknowledgements vi Introduction 1 SECTION 1 The field 9 1 Background and beginnings 10 2 Durkheim, cosmology and education 35 SECTION 2 The problematic 57 3 The structure of pedagogic discourse: elaborating and restricted codes 58 4 Bernstein and theory: reproduction and interruption 90 5 Bernstein and research: classification and framing The pedagogic device: power and control Conclusion 189 Afterword 192 Basil Bernstein Notes 194 Bibliography 199 Index 206
7 Acknowledgements This book has taken longer than anticipated to produce and I must thank Routledge and my editors there for their patience. My effort has been greatly aided by kind support from many friends, whose advice I have valued. In particular, Brian Barrett and Karl Maton gave me perceptive feedback on the drafts of the chapters as they appeared. As usual, I have had the excellent advice of my colleague John Beck. Frances Christie not only provided information and comment but also saved me from some howlers on matters linguistic. I am grateful to Ruqaiya Hasan for her encouragement and clarifications. Gerald Grace, Mike Hickox, Johan Muller, Elizabeth Rata, Philippe Vitale, Leesa Wheelahan and Michael Young have been fulsome in support and comment. In part, this book is the result of a collective discussion with all those named over many years and more generally with the friends associated with the International Bernstein Symposium. I must add the conventional rider that the final responsibility for what is within is mine but I hope they will approve. Cambridge University Faculty of Education and my College, Homerton, were generous in granting much needed study leave to work on this project. My wife, Susan Marritt, uncomplainingly performed the inhuman task of reading the text and doing her best to civilize my English, wot a job! I am grateful to the Bernstein family and to the Institute of Education archivists for their permission to use Francis Bernstein s photograph of Basil. I hope that they also will approve of this study of his ideas. This book is dedicated to Basil Bernstein, to his memory, to his legacy and to its future. Abjure fati!
8 Introduction This book is about the sociology of Basil Bernstein. It is not in a conventional sense an introduction to his work because neither his thought nor his style lend themselves to something that straightforward. I do hope, however, that it will serve as a lens through which to come to readings and understandings of his work. In technical terms, this book might be best described as an exegesis of Bernstein s thinking in that, to get to the meanings, it is necessary to dig into the texts and to move backwards and forwards across them over time. It is not possible to produce a simple chronology of the evolution of his ideas because, at later points, he returns to earlier ones and recovers a concept or issue and reworks and resets it (even renames it) within a new context. What in the first instance is an issue approached from one direction at a later time is approached from the opposite direction, the same thing viewed from different sides. Hence, to assemble a framework for presenting Bernstein s ideas it is necessary to read across his oeuvre in a synoptic manner, making an arrangement of elements and themes, moving backwards and forwards but in a way that is faithful to his original thinking. I have attempted here to be rigorous in my referencing so that those readers who care to do so can go back to the original sources and decide for themselves the fidelity of my interpretations. Why read a book about Basil Bernstein and why write one? In the first instance, the answer to both is that he was a thinker of immense originality and creativity. He should stand as one of the most inventive modern thinkers in the social sciences and as amongst the most inventive in British sociology. These qualities of originality, creativity and inventiveness have often been undervalued and poorly acknowledged. In part, this book addresses these issues by arguing that Bernstein came from an intellectual background in the formative years of British sociology that made him difficult to interpret for those in the field who came later and under a very different configuration of influences. It is ironic, though not untypical, that it is in the period after his death that his worth is being more properly appreciated through a flourishing of research programmes and scholarships across the world drawing upon his ideas in a wide range of topics in different regions. In what does his originality lie and what is the source of the creativity of
9 2 Introduction his thinking and its fecundity for others? In terms of the sociology of education (although he had an uneasy relationship with that field and did not locate himself within it), Bernstein contributes two things of major significance. In the first instance he provides an understanding of pedagogy as the agency not merely of reproduction but of interruption: as the space for thinking the unthinkable the yet to be thought, the possibility of new realities and this as an intrinsic power of pedagogy, not merely a contingent possibility dependent on circumstance as in the dominant reproduction paradigm. Secondly, in doing so he provides a distinctive object for the sociology of education: the structure of pedagogic discourse itself theorized through the principles of classification and framing and examined in terms of the social distribution of its modalities and their differential class effects. In both these respects, Bernstein stands out from the established orthodoxies that in various ways are preoccupied with how forces from outside education construct its voices only in ways that reproduce existing inequalities. This book attempts to clarify what these things mean. But his project is embedded within a deeper one that goes back to Durkheim and is concerned with the very nature of the social and what it is for human beings to be social beings. Ultimately, the theory of pedagogy is the theory of the social and of being social. Hence, Bernstein s concern with pedagogy is not one narrowly inscribed within the sociology of education but goes to the deepest level of sociological concerns. A central argument in this book is that to understand Bernstein properly it is necessary to understand Durkheim properly (or at least as Bernstein understood him). The reason why Bernstein had an ambiguous relationship with the sociology of education was because he came to Durkheim earlier and through a different route than those who founded the subdiscipline in the UK (especially in the early 1970s in what was known as the new sociology of education although there had never really been an old one). Bernstein came to Durkheim through the British school of social anthropology (inspired by Durkheim via Radcliffe-Brown) but the sociologists of education came to him through a radical American social constructionist critique of Parsonian structural functionalism and Parson s reading of Durkheim. This critical reading positioned Durkheim as a conservative positivist and as the negative pole of the field that which we are against. Durkheim was never either of these he was a socialist republican, a historical materialist and his work a systematic critique of positivism. The crucial text is The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1995) to be read alongside The Evolution of Educational Thought (1977). Bernstein came to Durkheim and especially his theory of pedagogy from a position, a reading, at the opposite end of the spectrum from the new sociologists of education. We must read Bernstein from his end of the spectrum, not the other. It is for this reason that this book is divided into two sections. The first, on the field attempts to locate Bernstein s thinking and his system within the historical framework of its formative period and investigates the influence
10 Introduction 3 of anthropology in the early years of British sociology. The sociology of religion is especially important here; in particular, the concern with cosmology and the relationship of the sacred and the profane and that between symbolic orders and social structure. If the introduction of these terms seems initially odd, that indicates just why it is necessary to explicate Bernstein s thinking within the context of a particular matrix of ideas in a particular time and setting. The concept of field here is not subject to a systematic theorization I mean it simply as a field of study in the first instance. The term is not being used in Bourdieu s sense. Indeed, the approach taken here could be read as an implicit critique of Bourdieu s relationalism (though I do not want this to be seen as a sterile Bernstein vs. Bourdieu contest). My approach is closer to that of Bernstein s fellow modern Durkheimian, Randall Collins (2000a) in his magnificent study, The Sociology of Philosophies. A field can be seen as a matrix of ideas that reflect what Collins calls deep problems. Elements within the matrix become configured in different ways at particular times constituting rival schools and those configurations change over time. Also, I consider (again following Collins) how a nexus of personal relationships, in a crucial period, influenced the development of the ideas: that between Bernstein, the anthropologist Mary Douglas and the linguists Michael Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasan in the second half of the 1960s. But these terms, field, matrix, nexus are not formalized as a theory or methodology in this book (although there is work in progress ). It follows from the above that this study must work with historical depth. It covers roughly a fifty-year period from the 1950s until Bernstein s death. The exegesis of Bernstein s thinking must involve a consideration of when he thought what he did, both in terms of the intellectual matrix of the time, the nexus of personal relationships and broader social conditions and issues. It must be concerned with the time and the place of the ideas. But, as I have already said, this does not imply a simple linear chronology of development and even less does it imply that old ideas are merely of historical interest, having been replaced by new ones. Of course Bernstein s thinking evolves. But it does so by moving backwards and forwards and from side to side and it is necessary to read new ideas through the old ones and one set of concepts through adjacent ones. Over time, it is not so much that particular ideas develop but that the general problematic increases in depth and richness rather in the way that an artist working on a canvas adds texture and detail to the painting over time. Bernstein s later papers sometimes, tellingly, repeat motifs and phrases from much earlier ones we must join up the dots. Of course, some earlier ideas are discarded and to a considerable extent the movement of the work is a series of episodes in which new concepts are introduced to address problems in preceding work. The concepts of classification and framing addressed a deep problem in the concepts of elaborating and restricted codes. Collins says that creative intellectual schools thrive on problems not solutions if there were only solutions, there would be nothing left to talk about! Bernstein always insisted that having the right problem
11 4 Introduction is more important than having the right approach. His problematic thrives not because of the solutions he provided, but because of the problems he identified and addressed and those he has passed on the balls set rolling as Johan Muller (2006) puts it. The second section is concerned with Bernstein s problematic. Why problematic? There are a number of reasons. First, because this was the term he preferred. What he preferred it to was paradigm. Bernstein from the beginning did not like paradigms. The difference between a paradigm and a problematic is that the fundamental principle of paradigms is that of incommensurability: theories, perspectives, methods cannot speak to each other because they come, it is held, from fundamentally different standpoints and are ideologically incompatible. In essence this was Bernstein s critique of the sociology of education in the early 1970s it adopted a paradigm model of the field (the two sociologies and so on [Moore 2009]). Bernstein was strongly committed to the principle of meta-dialogue, mixed theory and mixed method and also, in teaching, mixed pedagogies: that we begin with a problem and then mobilize our resources, theoretical and methodological around the problem. The problem comes before the approach. The deep problem is the very nature of the social and all our resources should be directed towards that and be mutually supporting and collaborative in their distinctive ways; implying a meta-dialogical principle, a translation device, that can read across approaches and bodies of data in a synthesizing manner. There is a second reason for problematic. A problematic is a problem field, a terrain across which many work in collaboration. Bernstein never believed that he himself was producing the one great theory. He was certainly a centre of inspiration but was inspiring others who worked together with him and with each other to explore the terrain of the problematic and continue to do so. Hence, in an important sense Bernstein s work was and is an extensive collaborative project. However, in this book, my concern is with Bernstein himself and his own writings. I do not systematically review the immense range of work of others within the problematic (see the guide to reading below) I would not presume to do so. The idea of a problematic as a collaborative work in progress is important because Bernstein strongly rejected the idea that any theory could be a total theory reality is always more complex than theory and it is the inevitable shortfall between theory and the world that drives theory forward. Because the social world is, by its very nature, always in change, there can never be theoretical totalization or closure reality is always moving away from us and theory follows it from behind. Theory ends only when the social ends the proclaimed end of history that is the ultimate hubris of ideologues. But social theory itself contributes in part to that movement because it informs in various ways the process of social change. However, Bernstein does not see that process as a deterministic, teleological one. Rather the present is a quantum space of potential within which we can think the unthinkable and envision new realities. There is always a range of possibilities and, hence, the space of
12 Introduction 5 agency and choice. This power is at the heart of pedagogy in Bernstein s theory. Hence, theoretical work must be one of endless creativity and innovation. Bernstein was impatient with theoretical purism and what he called epistemological botany, of putting theories in pigeonholes within an array of approaches or paradigms. Although he was deeply inspired by Durkheim and his magnificent insight, he draws also on Marx, on symbolic interactionism and on Weber and many other traditions. It is the problem that comes first and theoretical resources mobilized around the problem. The purpose of the exercise is to produce news ; that is, to tell us things about the world that are both worth knowing and of use to us in furthering the cause of social justice, especially through education. Bernstein s starting point was that of a teacher and he began with a simple question: why do working class children do worse in education than middle class ones? It is important always to refer back to this beginning because, however abstract the issues may become, this is their basic reference point: how does education work and how might it be made to work better? A note on referencing and further reading References The major source of references to Bernstein s work will be the reprinted Routledge volumes of Class, Codes and Control (CCC) 1 IV. In addition, there is the second revised edition of CCCIII of 1977, which includes some major revisions on the original (the one reprinted by Routledge, 2009III) and also the two volumes of Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: theory, research, critique, the first in 1996 and the revised edition in I will reference these volumes as follows. Where relevant, the date of first publication of individual chapters will be placed in square [ ] brackets before the date of the collection, such as (Bernstein  1977 ch. 7, Bernstein  2009IV): Class, Codes and Control vol. I (Bernstein  2009I) Class, Codes and Control vol. II (Bernstein  2009II) Class, Codes and Control vol. III (Bernstein  2009III) Class, Codes and Control vol. III 2nd revised edition (Bernstein 1977) Class, Codes and Control vol. IV (Bernstein  2009IV) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: theory, research, critique (Bernstein 1996) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: theory, research, critique 2nd revised edition, (Bernstein 2000). An exhaustive bibliography of Bernstein s writings can be found in Frandji and Vitale (eds) (2011).
13 6 Introduction Further reading A good initial introduction to Bernstein s thinking is Alan Sadovnik s Basil Bernstein s Theory of Pedagogic Practice in Sadovnik (ed.) (1995). Paul Atkinson s (1985) Language, Structure and Reproduction: an introduction to the sociology of Basil Bernstein is a lucid account of his thinking to that date. I have addressed the relationship of Bernstein to Durkheim in Moore (2004) Education and Society: issues and explanations in the sociology of education, chapter 5; reprinted in Lauder, H. et al. (2006) Education, Globalization and Social Change. For further developments in theory and research see the papers and volumes associated with the biennial international symposium. International Basil Bernstein Symposia: Seventh Symposium: Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l Homme, Aixen-Provence, France, June Sixth Symposium: Griffith University, Brisbane Australia, 30 June 3 July Fifth Symposium: Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Wales, 9 12 July 2008: Ivinson, G., Davies, B. and Fitz, J. (eds) (2011) Knowledge and Identity: Concepts and applications in Bernstein s sociology. London: Routledge. Fourth Symposium: Rutgers University, USA. 2006: Singh, P., Sadovnik A. Semel, S. (eds) (2010) Toolkits, Translation Devices and Conceptual Accounts Essays on Basil Bernstein s Sociology of Knowledge. New York: Peter Lang. Third Symposium: Cambridge University, England, July 2004: Moore, R., Arnot, M., Beck. J. and Daniels, H. (eds) (2006) Knowledge, Power and Educational Reform: Applying the sociology of Basil Bernstein. London: Routledge. Second Symposium: Cape Town, Republic of South Africa: Muller, J., Davies, B. and Morais, A. (eds) (2004) Reading Bernstein, Researching Bernstein, London: RoutledgeFalmer. First Symposium: Lisbon, Portugal: Morais, A., Neves, I., Davies, B. and Daniels, H. (eds) (2001) Towards a Sociology of Pedagogy: The contribution of Basil Bernstein to research. New York: Peter Lang. See also: Frandji, D. and Vitale, P. (eds) (2011) Knowledge, Pedagogy and Society: International perspectives on Basil Bernstein s sociology of education, London: Routledge. Papers from the Social Issues, Knowledge, Language and Pedagogy: The Current Relevance and Usefulness of Basil Bernstein s Work Conference held at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France 31 May 2 June British Journal of Sociology of Education (2002) Special Edition on Basil Bernstein, volume 23, no. 4. Systemic functional linguistics Christie, F. and Maton, K. (eds) (2011) Disciplinarity: Functional linguistics and sociological perspectives. London and New York: Continuum.
14 Introduction 7 Christie, F. and Martin, J. (eds) (2007) Language, Knowledge and Pedagogy: Functional linguistic and sociological perspectives. London and New York: Continuum. Christie, F. (ed.) (1999) Pedagogy and the Shaping of Consciousness: Linguistics and social processes, London: Continuum. The first two titles above combine Bernsteinian with systemic functional linguistics and social realist approaches. Social realism Moore, R. and Maton, K. (eds) (2010) Social Realism, Knowledge and the Sociology of Education: coalitions of the mind, London: Continuum. Moore, R. (2009) Towards the Sociology of Truth. London: Continuum. Maton, K. (2013) Knowledge and Knowers: Towards a realist sociology of education. London: Routledge [forthcoming]. Maton, K., Hood, S. and Shay, S. (eds) (2013) Knowledge-building: Educational studies in legitimation code theory. London, Routledge [forthcoming]. Festschrift Sadovnik, A. (ed.) (1995) Knowledge and Pedagogy: The sociology of Basil Bernstein, Westport: Ablex. Atkinson, P. Davies, B. and Delamont, A. (eds) (1995) Discourse and Reproduction: essays in honor of Basil Bernstein, Cresskill NJ: Hampton Press. Power, S., Aggleton, P., Brannen, J., Brown, A., Chisholm, L. and Mace J. (eds) A Tribute to Basil Bernstein London: Institute of Education.
16 Section 1 The field
17 1 Background and beginnings Durkheim s work is a truly magnificent insight into the relationships between symbolic orders, social relationships and the structuring of experience. (Basil Bernstein 2009I: 171) Introduction The main purpose of this chapter is to sketch the broad background from which Bernstein s thinking emerged. The context in which Bernstein s thinking began was liminal, in that it was the period when sociology was starting to coalesce as a subject in British universities but before its rapid expansion in the 1960s and the emergence of the sociology of education in the 1970s. It is in this time and space that the key to Bernstein s thinking is to be found. The argument, in terms of the history of ideas, is that to locate Bernstein within British sociology it is necessary to appreciate, first, the significance of anthropology in that field in his intellectually formative stage and then, within that, of a particular reading of Durkheim and of the place of religion in Durkheim s thought. Bernstein s problematic, within the general matrix of the field of sociology, has its origins within a certain configuration of ideas, issues and influences in that period and the ways in which they were positioned and valorized. The sociology of education, as it developed slightly later, came to be configured in a significantly different way, within which the reading of Bernstein was refracted through a different lens (see Davies 2011). Essentially, the sociology of education could not see Bernstein in terms of the matrix within which his ideas were originally located and where they acquired their particular meaning and force. His ideas and some of the key concepts of his early work such as elaborated and restricted codes were recontextualized and frequently misrecognized in terms of principles or preoccupations very different from his. This is why it is important to begin with a sense of the time and place of Bernstein s starting point. The sociology of education emerges as a distinct field of study when it migrates from a small number of mainstream sociology departments in universities to schools of education and education studies departments in
18 Background and beginnings 11 institutes and colleges of education as one of the foundation disciplines in a time of expansion in education in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Moore 2009 ch. 4). But the sociology of education that came to be as a result of this relocation was some way removed from Bernstein s deeper and more general sociological interests. The major programme of the sociology of education became preoccupied with education as an agency of social reproduction and reproduction in the areas of class, gender and race has remained its overriding concern. The figure of Bourdieu comes to loom large here. The key piece of the jigsaw in these alignments and realignments is Durkheim or, perhaps, Durkheim because the way in which he is constructed and positioned within these different configurations is symptomatic of radically different problematics. In the sociology of education in the early 1970s, Durkheim came to be constructed, for many, as that which we are not Durkheim as the arch positivist other. If, as I suggest, Bernstein s relationship to the sociology of education is in a sense oblique then it is because he comes at it from Durkheim s big question and in a way informed by structural anthropology in the tradition that Durkheim and Mauss inaugurated. It is probably fair to say that little of this would have been visible to those in the vanguard of the new sociology of education (nothing in the literature of the times suggests that it was 1 ). To them, Durkheim was a very different kind of figure: the one received (second-hand) through the radical constructionist critique of Parsonian functionalism and, within that, Parson s reading of Durkheim. Susan Steadman-Jones (2001), in her scholarly and perceptive study of Durkheim, captures what is at stake here: It is important to remember that Durkheim wrote before Parsons, but from the way Durkheim is viewed in sociology s oral tradition, we have to conclude that although formally it is recognized that he died in France in 1917, he suffered a veritable rebirth in America! Paradoxically for a French thinker, this has become the dominant culture in the interpretation of Durkheim. Here he becomes a born-again conservative, not only by the perceived identification of him with the concerns of a particular form of structural functionalism, but also by the characterization of him imposed by significant thinkers within this movement. (Stedman-Jones 2001: 5) It was in this recontextualization of Durkheim that he came to be seen as a conservative positivist a view still widely encountered today. Bernstein, from the very beginning, saw Durkheim so differently because he came to him before he had been born again in his American incarnation. British social anthropology, deeply influenced by Durkheim via Radcliffe-Brown, presented a different view. These different types of understanding of Durkheim imply two radically different structurings of the field of the sociology of education two radically different problematics because the core problems are of fundamentally different orders.
19 12 The field Hence, whereas Durkheim, understood earlier in one way, was the positive pole in Bernstein s thought, understood later in a quite different way, he was the negative pole for the sociology of education. Within this tension, the figure of Bernstein is ambiguous and problematical. The exegesis of Bernstein s theory is, in effect, the excavation of this alternative, though immanent or subterranean, problematic (as described by Alexander 1990) and the matrix within which it is embedded. In these terms, the purpose of the exercise attempted in this chapter and the next is not to locate Bernstein s theory as a particular kind of ism but to reconstruct the matrix of ideas and circumstance in which his ideas really make sense. Particularly significant is the place of concepts that are more usually associated with religious beliefs and practices and it will be argued that the sociology of religion is the best starting point for understanding Bernstein s relationship to the sociology of education. This point will be further developed in the next chapter. Social anthropology, and especially the study of religious thought (cosmology), is crucial to understanding Bernstein s approach. British sociology was, as it were, only half-formed in the time when Bernstein was studying at the London School of Economics (LSE) and anthropology flowed into the empty spaces that sociology had yet to make its own, especially in the form of ethnographic community studies. Consequently, there was a close link between anthropology and the fledgling sociology, including notable anthropologists assuming professorial roles in sociology departments. Collins, in his overview of the historical development of sociology, describes the situation in this way: In Britain, sociology scarcely made it into the academic world at all. The intellectually and socially elite universities at Oxford and Cambridge would not admit a discipline they regarded as plebeian and lacking serious scholarly content. British sociology first found its home in the London School of Economics...where it managed to pick up some theoretical clothing by associating itself with anthropology. (Collins 1994a: 43) In the Forward to Class, Codes and Control volume I (Bernstein  2009I) Donald MacRae, who taught Durkheim to Bernstein at the LSE (Bernstein 2009I: 3), describes the book as follows: with these papers we are concerned with aspects of the enormous, single but many-faceted issues at the heart of sociology: how is society possible. (Bernstein 2009I: xiii) and links this directly to Durkheim and the Elementary Forms (ibid: pxiv). Bernstein came to Durkheim, not through what MacRae refers to as, the Durkheim of the textbooks but, rather, through what becomes an alternative subterranean legacy. It is within this environment that Bernstein would first have encountered Durkheim and this was a very different Durkheim from the one later constructed in the radical forms of interpretative sociology
20 Background and beginnings 13 that were so influential in the sociology of education that came into being in the 1970s. Collins makes another point of particular significance: Durkheim made no distinction between sociology and anthropology : Durkheim and his followers used the term ethnology for the empirical description of tribal societies, whereas sociology meant the theoretical analysis of any society, tribal or modern...durkheim was particularly interested in inducting the laws of all societies by the study of tribal and non-western societies: partly because he thought that they were simpler and more likely to reveal the elementary forms of social life, but also because they showed more plainly the nonrational sentiments and the symbolism that he believed were involved in every society. The strength of Durkheim and his followers was that they saw modern society through the lens of tribal society. [my emphasis] (Collins 1994a: 183) The distinctive feature of Bernstein s problematic very much reflects this interplay between sociology and anthropology and a Durkheimian perspective upon the modern through the lens of tribal society within which the category of cosmology is crucial. The concern, there, was not with how tribal societies differ from modern but with the ways in which they are similar. Essentially, Bernstein followed Durkheim in approaching education systems in modern societies as equivalent to religious systems in premodern societies, in that both are the primary sites of symbolic production and control and also as potential sites of change of thinking the unthinkable. However, there is a further complication. The stream of anthropological thought within which Bernstein should be located has its initial source in Durkheim s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (Durkheim 1995). To properly understand Bernstein s concerns, it is necessary to read that revolutionary work in the way that Bernstein did (Moore 2004 ch. 5). But, following the insights of the anthropologist Robin Horton (1973, see Chapter 2) it becomes apparent that Bernstein s position on Durkheim was itself a minority one, though shared by other eminent authorities such as Mary Douglas, with whom Bernstein enjoyed an important intellectual collaboration in the second part of the 1960s, as well as by Horton himself. Thus, if we begin, as many have done, by approaching Bernstein from the sociology of education, we have to take two sharp turns, as it were, the first into social anthropology and the second into a particular understanding within that discipline of the Elementary Forms and of the fundamental categories of the sacred and the profane. It is necessary, then, to advance like the knight in chess: forward, but also to the side. Although Bernstein certainly did have a passionate interest in education, his attitude to the sociology of education was complex and he did not see
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