The liberal and the vocational
DOI link for The liberal and the vocational
The liberal and the vocational book
Social scientists are used to analysing the situation, reactions, attitudes of clients, tenants, recipients, voters, victims. The literature of the sociology of housing or social work, the social services or prisons, grapples with the problems of taking account of the perceptions of those 'to whom it is done'. A range of methodologies and theories have surfaced and transformed the disciplines, precisely as a result of attempts to solve the problem. Sociologists of education have in general avoided the ground. Exceptions are important, and Paul Willis's Learning to Labour would be one. But the educational literature of the client and the victim has been mainly of a different order, less 'academic', more 'literary' or campaigning, proclaiming death at an early age, children born to fail, kids oppressed. If social scientists have on the whole avoided entanglement with the beneficiaries of education, historians have the more so. Historians of social work and penitentiaries and asylums have felt impelled towards the 'victims', even if the histories have eventually said more about the historians' theories of social control than about the victims. Historians of schools or colleges or early childhood education or the curriculum have made little effort to see the story from below. Much brouhaha is, of course, evident in the field of oral history, and historians of the more recent past have been able to pursue 'victims' of many kinds. Life is less easy for the historian of ancient Athens or Carolingian Europe or colonial America or Regency England - though there have been historians who have been teaching us how.