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Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía (RIB)
Número: 1-4
Título: 1997
Sección: Reseñas Informativas / Informative Reviews

Raymond Allan MORROW and Carlos Alberto TORRES. Social Theory and Education: A Critique of Theories of Social and Cultural Reproduction. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995. xi, 517 p., notes, references, index.

Over the last three decades, social sciences have witnessed a number of exciting theoretical developments, and it is within this context that Social Theory and Education, written by Raymond Morrow and Carlos Alberto Torres, does more than simply outline the conventional contours of the sociology of education as a distinct genre within the broader terrain of sociological research. The authors have undertaken an analysis and synthesis of the most important works published in or about the sociology of education over the last three decades in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

Stressing the need for a metatheory, this book reasserts the centrality of ideology as a means of understanding numerous perspectives within the social sciences in general and the sociology of education in particular. The authors invite educators and cultural workers to confront the ideological dimensions of the production of knowledge surrounding a wide range of theoretical issues, as well as interrogate the institutional arrangements of knowledge in response to the social relations of production and the globalization of capital.

Developing the notion of political sociology of education, and with a focus on the relationship among education, power, knowledge, and the state, Social Theory and Education offers a conceptual analysis and criticism of social reproduction in education while advancing new directions for theoretical and empirical research.

The authors recognize that the practice of sociology is implicated in the production, maintenance, and transformation of particular subjectivities and forms of social agents. The language of sociology itself must be inherent in a social praxis and therefore must be considered more than simply an abstract system of differences. Pedagogically and politically, Morrow and Torres work against reproducing the discipline of sociology as a means of producing passive agents. The sociology of education is reconfigured dialectically as a means of enabling cultural workers to become more aware of their discurssive and material situatedness in relation to larger social, cultural and institutional contexts outside of the academy.

The work is divided into six sections. The first one focuses on the concept of reproduction of educational systems and provides a synthetic reference point for comparing the full range of concepts of the relation between society end education. The second section attempts to provide an in-depth comparative analysis of structural functionalist and structural theories in the ligth of reproduction theory. The third one analyzes the problem from the perspective of neo-marxist conflict theories, stressing the concepts of class and domination, and in section four, the authors shift from neo-marxism to introduce the concept of critical theory.

In the fifth, the discussion is based on developments in advanced societies (U.S.A. and Europe) and peripheral ones (Latin America). The authors link the discussion of education with recent debates on theories of the state. The concluding chapters in the volume construct the agenda for a research strategy based on the concept of “critical modernism” which includes discussions of the interactions among class, race and gender, and social reproduction within the context of a postmodernist critique.


1. Estas reseñas fueron preparadas por las sugientes funcionarias de la Secretaría Ejecutiva para el Desarrollo Integral/These reviews were prepared by the following staff members of the Exeuctive Secretariat for Integral Development: María del Carmen Barreneche, María de Icaza, María Teresa Mellenkamp, y Rosario Villanueva Popovici.