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Social democracy, economic liberalism and physical education: A Dewey-informed review of philosophical and pedagogical possibilities

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    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Pedagogy, Culture & Society on 06 Sep 2018, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14681366.2018.1513421.

    Accepted author manuscript, 371 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalPedagogy, Culture & Society
Early online date6 Sep 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sep 2018


This historical-themed critical paper utilises selective education writings by John Dewey to review how constructions of participatory social democracy might benefit conceptions of contemporary physical education which are informed by social interaction and personally relevant learning. After defining the boundaries of enquiry, the review focuses on Dewey’s early ethics writings which considered that society functioned best when collective moral purposes merged with individual freedoms in a context where one should be alert to the marginalising influences of laissez-faire liberalism. The paper then briefly reviews why previous attempts to engage with Dewey’s theorizing in the United States of America in the early to mid-twentieth century failed to result in sustained progress. Using this analysis, the paper then reviews whether a greater interest in meaningful and activist forms of participation could be enhanced further by establishing clearer Deweyan-informed links to democracy and learning. In conclusion, it is argued that physical education is best equipped to withstand the ramifications of advanced capitalism if students experiences are continuous and interactive, and with a degree of responsibility and control over the pace and direction of learning. If effective, this is likely to develop improved levels of reasoning, active deliberation and decision-making.

    Research areas

  • John Dewey, physical education, social democracy, pedagogy, economic liberalism, philospohy of education, social interaction

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