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What counts as reality in teachers’ experiences: Bringing materialism into pragmatism
Linnéuniversitetet.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5554-6041
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. (Smed)
2014 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

General description and purpose: In this paper we explore the ‘realist’ dimension in Dewey’s version of pragmatism and especially in his concept of experience. Inspired by Actor-Network Theory (ANT), we suggest that moving Dewey’s ideas towards notions of the significance of material realities would contribute to a more complex understanding of teachers’ experiences of power and constraints that might have a potential influence on their actions in institutional settings, which is also the purpose of this paper. In this, mostly conceptual, inquiry we illustrate our argument with a narrative from an interview in a daily newspaper, where a teacher give her view of the different forms of forces and influences she encounters in her task of grading the students. Our research questions are: How can the concept of transactional realism contribute to a ‘renewed’ understanding of pragmatism that also includes material aspects? How can material aspects contribute to and shed light on teachers' room for action?

Theoretical and methodological framework: In recent years, there has been a revivification of interest in pragmatist philosophy among social science and a renewed interest of pragmatism, as a “post-postmodern” approach (Hickman 2007), resolving around two turns: the realist version of reflexivity inherent in pragmatic philosophy and the temporal frame of social inquiry that places reflexive realism in a future-oriented ontology (Rosiek 2013). In the paper we explore the relations between transactional realism and the notion of time, space and a more intersubjective interpretation of meaning, consistent with some of the ideas developed in ANT. In the inquiry, we trace the factors, human and non-human, that enact a teacher’s work with grading.

Expected conclusions: We suggest that the concept of experience is the bridge that links ‘the linguistic turn’ with realism, and that the allowance of transactional agency for non-humans, develop Dewey’s transactional realism, and provide for a more sensitive exploration of the complexities that make up teachers’ realities. In our empirical example, the teacher’s work with grading is enacted in the relational network she finds herself in, a network in which several different actors cooperate: economic, political and material. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keyword [en]
transactional realism, materialism, actor-network theory, teachers' work
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-42376OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-42376DiVA: diva2:785771
Conference
Teachers Matter – But How? International Research Conference at Linnæus University Växjö, Sweden, October 23-24, 2014
Available from: 2015-02-03 Created: 2015-02-03 Last updated: 2015-06-01Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
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