Tomy Ward Education
Education for Critical Times
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Critical Theorists

This Section will include brief biographies of the main Critical Theorists who have been influential in the field since its inception in the 1930s.  It is arranged alphabetically, in sequential sections for ease of access and to reduce download time.

The backgrounds and interests of these theorists are diverse, but the one thing they share in common is a belief that human nature is not "inherent" but is shaped by the social, political and economic forces at work in society, and that a better world is possible through the transformation of these structural systems. They also share a loose relationship to Marxist revisionism - an attempt to recontextualise Marx in the Post-Stalin, post Soviet Union world. All are philosophers in the broadest sense, although their primary focus may not be the narrow disciplinary field of academicism. They are all social activists, seeking to transform the world, as Marx himself said, rather than to simply describe it. They attempt to do this in their own ways through their own disciplines - philosophy, psychology, psychotherapy, education, media studies, cultural studies and linguistics. All of them have been instrumental in shaping my own theorising and praxis.


I have used Wikipedia but, bearing in mind its relative insecurity, I have cross-referenced its entries with others - notably the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philiosophy and other institutional and personal websites and material from my library. I  have also contextualised these references into my own work and theorising where possible. The list is not complete but it is entirely personal. It is also a work in progress - being extended as time and parenting allows. I have left out some theorists because I find their writings too self-indulgent or impenetrable or, more pointedly, to internally inconsistent. I have therefore tended to favour those who live up to my own highest value - an ability to walk their talk, to practice what they preach, to integrate theory and practice in their lives. I have, for instance, left out Baudrillard whom I find too self-centred and smug in his own opinions - a legend in his own mind, as they say. For similar reasons I have left out Tariq Ali. Lyotard's theoretical insights are too powerful to be omitted, and though almost impenetrable, I have decided to include Derrida for the same reason. Some of those included are notable in their own specialist fields (Michael Apple, Henry Giroux and Stanley Aronowitz in Education, bell hooks in Feminism and African American Studies etc.) You will notice that Critical Education theorists like Apple, Aronowitz, Giroux, McLaren, Shor  etc., have more extensive biographies than others. This is because they have featured majorly in my own researrch and writings. As an educational theorist and practitioner their ideas have been most meaningful and are therefore more fully articulated. Also, you will notice that there appears to be a dearth of women in the list. This is because men have tended to dominate the disciplines until the last few years. For this reason, I have linked to an excellent feminist philosophy blogroll which contains a comprehensive list of women philosophers. To view this click here .

Those that are included in my list are there because their own theories and writings extend beyond the disciplinary boundaries of their subject areas and have a much broader cultural and political influence (like hegemony and the relationship between The State and Civil Society). I have otherwise tended to avoid Urban Theorists (Like Manuel Castells, David Harvey and Mike Davis), literary theorists (like Terry Eagleton), feminist theorists and critical education theorists.

For those readers wanting a broader and more inclusive list of critical theorists, I recommend Telos, a quarterly critical journal that has hosted articles by some of the most prominent critical theorists of the late 20th Century.

Finally, if anyone would like to augment, change or make suggestions about the biographies please feel free to contact me

 

To view Part 2 click here  

 

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