chapter  4
Rethinking the Education–State Formation Connection: The State, Cultural Struggles, and Changing the School
ByTing-Hong Wong, Michael W. Apple
Pages 28

In recent years, a growing number of scholars have examined the role of education in state formation. State formation is generally understood as the historical process through which ruling elites struggle to build a local identity, amend or preempt social fragmentation, and win support from the ruled (Green, 1990, 1994). These analyses have deepened our understanding of both the connections between political and educational changes and the cultural politics of education. However, insightful though they are, many of these studies treat the educational system only as a dependent variable influenced by the dynamics of state formation. Schools are usually depicted as being shaped-sometimes in an unmediated and mechanical manner-by the emergence of the nation-state, new forms of citizenship, and the transformation of sovereignty (Boli, 1989; Curtis, 1988; Green, 1990, 1997; Harp, 1998; Melton, 1988). These works also often seem to assume that schools always function to meet the demands of state formation. This formulation neglects the relative autonomy of the educational system and overlooks the possibility that schools themselves might generate profound effects that may block or modify the course of state formation. We believe that such tacit assumptions within most existing theories of state formation and education can cause us to lose a number of important insights about the complicated and subtle dynamics surrounding the relationship between state-making and

education. A reformulated theory of state formation is needed, one that shows the mediating effects of schooling itself on the process of statebuilding.