Adorno : cultural education and resistance

Jessop, Sharon (2017) Adorno : cultural education and resistance. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 36 (4). 409–423. ISSN 0039-3746 (

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In recent years, culture has become significantly politicized, or conspicuously de-politicized, in different parts of the UK, making its appearance in education policy of pivotal interest and ripe for critical attention. From the vantage point of Theodor Adorno's work on the culture industry and his writings on the work of the teacher, I argue that cultural education is a site where something crucial and distinctive takes place. Within the Enlightenment tradition, critical self-reflection and resistance to heteronymous ways of thinking are core aims of education. Adorno's contribution to an understanding of these aims leads us to consider the importance of 'live contact with the warmth of things' as essential to ethical and intellectual life. The kindly tolerance of the pluralist ideal is now being teased and goaded by acts of terror and widespread concern about personal and social security. At such an unstable juncture, an understanding of cultural education as an experience of 'incorrigible plurality' enriches and informs the beleaguered ideal of pluralism and points a way forward in troubled times.