Words/Phrases DEFINED: 'the negative sociology of 'the general interest''. Father Jerome's PSYCHOSOCIOLOGICAL DICTIONARY of KEYWORDS/PHRASES used in his QUALIA III Monograph.

Words/Phrases DEFINED:
"the negative sociology of 'the general interest'"

"the negative sociology of 'the general interest'"
The GENERAL CONTEXT of such use is:
the negative sociology of 'the general interest': The technocratic thinking which, reviving the philosphy of history of social evolutionism in its simplest form, claims to extract from reality itself a unilinear, one-dimensional model of the phases of historical change, obtains, without much effort, the yardstick of a universal comparison, which enables it to hierarchize the different societies or educational systems univocally, according to their degree of development or 'rationality'. In reality, because the indicators of the 'rationality' of an educational system are less amenable to comparative interpretation the more completely they express the historical and social specificity of educational institutions and practices, this procedure destroys the very object of comparison by divesting the elements compared of all they owe to their membership in systems of relations. Consequently, whether one confines oneself to indicators as abstract as illiteracy rate, enrollment rate and teacher-pupil ratio, or takes into account more specific indicators of the efficiency of the educational system, or of the degree to which it makes use of the intellectual resources potentially available, such as the role of technical education, the proportion of student intake successfully graduating, or the differential representation of the sexes or social classes in the different levels of education, it is necessary to reinstate these relations within the systems of relations on which they depend, in order to avoid comparing the incomparable or, more subtly, failing to compare the really comparable.
More profoundly, all these indicators rest on an implicit definition of the 'productivity' of the educational system which, in referring exclusively to its formal, external rationality, reduces the system of its functions to one of them, itself subjected to a reductive abstraction. Technocratic measurement of educational output assumes the impoverished model of a system which, knowing no other goals than those it derives from the economic system, responds optimally, in quantity and quality, and at minimum cost, to the technical demand for training, i.e., the needs of the labor market. For anyone who accepted such a definition of rationality, the (formally) most rational educational system would be one which, totally subordinating itself to the requirements of calculability and predictability (as forecasters, economic, of today so do), produced at the lowest cost specific skills directly adjusted to specialized tasks and guaranteed the types and levels of skill required for a given dateline by the economic system, using to this end personnel specially trained in handling the most adequate pedagogic techniques, setting aside class and sex divisions so as to draw as widely as possible (without stepping outside the limits of profitability) on the intellectual 'reserves' and banishing all vestiges of traditionalism, so as to substitute for an education in culture, such designed to form men of taste, instead an education capable of producing made-to-measure specialists according to schedule.
Such a rationalization, formally irreproachable (allowing for the approximations and the constancy hypotheses entailed by any such 'projection'), rests on a definition of 'needs' which owes its credibility to nothing more than a superficial analogy: either one recognizes as 'needs' only those judged worthy of being satisfied by reference to a technocratic ideal of the economic worthiness of nations or one recognizes as 'needs' all the demands for education actually expressed. There is nothing to prevent one opting for the first alternative and relating a determinate state of the School to a pure model of the educational system defined exclusively and univocally by its ability to satisfy the requirements of economic development. But, given that there is no such society in which the educational system is reduced to the role of an industrial enterprise subject to exclusively economic goals, that production for the needs of the economy does not everywhere have the same weight in the system of functions and, more profoundly, that the specificity of an educational system and of its 'production' techniques is reproduced in the specificity of its products, it is only by sheer force of ideology that one can present the 'needs of the economy' or of Society as the rational, reasonable basis for a consensus on the hierarchy of the functions incumbent upon the educational system. In condemning as irrational, the 'motivations' or 'vocations' which nowadays lead a proportion of students into 'unproductive' studies or careers, without seeing that these orientations are the product of the combined action of the School and class values, themselves objectively oriented by the action of the School, technocratic ideology betrays the fact that it knows no other 'rational' objectives than the goals objectively inscribed in a certain type of economy. The technocrats are able to profess the sociologically impossible idea of an educational system reduced to its economic function alone, only because, having failed to relate the economic syatem (to which they subordinate the educational system) to a determinate structure of class relations, and taking for granted an economic demand conceived as independent of the power relations between classes, they then, in all innocence, under cover of its technical function, reintroduce the social function of the educational system and in particular its function of reproducing and legitimating the structure of class relations.
It is not surprising that this idealism of the 'general interest' fails to grasp the structural properties and operational characteristics that each educational system owes to the ensemble of its relations with the other sub-systems, i.e., to the system of functions which, in a determinate historical situation, derives its specific structure from the structure of class relations. It is still less surprising that this pan-econometric monism ignores the specific properties that the structure and functioning of the educational system owe to the function specifically incumbent upon it as the holder of the delegated power to inculcate a cultural arbitrary. Nor, finally, is it surprising that the ingenuous alliance between a utilitarian evolutionism and reformist voluntarism condemns its exponents to a negative sociology which, by the light of an exemplary rationality, can see only failures and shortcomings ('archaism', 'vestiges', 'backwardness', 'obstacles' or 'resistance') and can only characterize in terms of absence the pedagogic specificity and historical particularity of an educational system.
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