chapter  3
12 Pages

Evaluation and critique: a modified Bernsteinian basis for curriculum

This chapter evaluates and critiques Bernstein’s analysis of the structures of knowledge and the way knowledge is produced. It argues that Bernstein’s analysis of the social relations of knowledge needs to be extended to include the epistemic relations of knowledge to allow an analysis of the way in which knowledge is co-determined by both. Bernstein’s analysis of vertical and horizontal discourses allows him to develop a rich and differentiated account of the social relations of knowledge, but he is less able to distinguish the different ways in which the epistemic relations of vertical discourses may be structured beyond his analysis of hierarchical and horizontal knowledge structures and strong and weak grammars. His relative neglect of the epistemic relations of knowledge leaves him without criteria for judging the epistemic claims of theories, particularly within hierarchical knowledge structures. His analysis needs to be extended because the curriculum has to be underpinned by a theory of epistemology as well as a sociological analysis of the conditions of knowledge, because epistemology provides the basis for considering questions about the objectivity and possibility of truthfulness of knowledge. This is critical realism’s contribution and is why critical realism complements Bernstein’s approach.