SCHOOLING IN CAPITALIST AMERICA: Education and the Contradictions of Economic Life by Samuel & Herbert Gintis Bowles

SCHOOLING IN CAPITALIST AMERICA: Education and the Contradictions of Economic Life

Email this review


This Ford Foundation-sponsored study surveys the retreat of liberal reforms in American public education and offers a wide-ranging critique of that system, based on the principle that education cannot be viewed separately from class structure and economic institutions. Not ""technological necessity or educators' bungling"" but the hierarchical character of capitalist relationships explains the failure to meet the promise of equality and self-development. The authors examine genetic theorists, ""free school"" initiatives, and other proposals for replacing liberal commitments; they include an extensive sampling of empirical studies, along with a survey of the history of U.S. education, which, they conclude, represents a trade-off between workers' demands for cultural and occupational elevation on the one hand, and employers' attempts to secure social control through mass institutions. For all their factual investigations, Bowles and Gintis retain a relatively timeless and abstract view of ""corporate capitalism,"" whose flaws are ""hierarchy, waste and alienation."" Despite their admiration for John Dewey, they see a permanent ""basic contradiction between the reproductive needs of the community and the self-actualizing needs of students."" And, having argued that no educational reform can be projected without a parallel revolutionary program for changing economic relations, they end with the regret that ""the long march through the institutions"" must go on for many years. Still, this is a provocative effort by two members of the Union of Radical Political Economists.

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 1975
Publisher: Basic Books