Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Ideology critique and the production of meaning : a critical approach to selected urban education material
    Unger, Zita (1948-) ( 1989)
    Ideology critique, when applied by educational research to the ideational content of curriculum materials, has evoked negative connotations of partiality and bias, mis-representation of social reality, and ultimately, of untruth. This thesis attempts to assert a more positive sense of "meaning production" for curriculum critique and shift emphasis away from representation towards signification. Part 1 reviews the management of questions of ideology and education by the sociology of school knowledge and curriculum research. I argue in Chapter 1 that strategies of ideology critique, along structuralist and culturalist lines of difference, have inadequately addressed issues of critical subjectivity, hegemony, and social transformation that is posed by radical education. Four curriculum studies of text book analysis are discussed in detail, in terms of their attachment to the sociology of school knowledge and in terms of the "bias and balance" discourses that they produce. Meaning production is used to enhance, rather than displace, practices of ideology critique, in ways that the case study analysis seeks to develop. The urbanism kit that is analysed in Part 2 is undertaken as a means to ground these issues, rather than to render a consummate curriculum analysis. Critical reading of the case study materials in Chapter 2 is enabled by the urban theory of Manual Castells. His ideology critique of urbanism and reformulations of urban system, urban planning, and urban social movements, are utilised to the extent that theoretic productions of the case study materials in Chapter 3 are analysed in terms of their constitutive discourses, rather than in terms of determinations about whether they are biased or ideological. Chapter 4 examines this process of signification further. Our inquiry shows that not only are understandings about "the city" produced, but, discourses about knowledge-production and about individual subjects are set up at the same time. Analysis of the case study material also indicates that balance is not necessarily built-in as a result of a commitment to provide diverse expert opinion. This has implications for those practices of curriculum criticism and curriculum construction which attempt to locate and redress bias as well as promote critical thinking. The directions suggested here are disposed towards problematising categories of analysis, especially categories such as "society" and the "individual", and towards opening up questions about what is produced as knowledge.