Thursday, 28 June 2018

Political Education, Gramsci and the War of Position

Dear Colleagues,

Just a brief note that captures a thought in between working and writing thesis findings.

I had the pleasure yesterday and taking to delegates attend the AGM of the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments - SCUDD:

The broad topic yesterday was around the political state of the entertainment/drama sector, with a focus on inequalities of class, gender, race etc.

I was pleased to listen to Deidre O'Neill and Mike Wayne of InsideFilm and producers of the critically important documentary of class and the sector, The Acting Class:

The trailer is below.

Mike took the time to chronicle the extent to which acting as a profession has been captured by a privileged group comprised of those who have attended the same schools/universities etc., and as a result aid the structure of the sector as one difficult to access for aspirant working class women and men.

I was reminded as Mike spoke of the shoddy commitment given by the BBC last week to improve the representation of black people amongst its senior management team by 2 by 2020: Just 1 a year over the next two years! But, if the BBC maintains its position of privileging Oxbridge graduates these two new members of staff may reflect 'diversity' but not equality of opportunity in getting such work.

Writing-up the thesis today following these events made me re-think the importance of Gramsci's concept of a war of position in challenging hegemony in politics and society:

The broad link to my thesis is that (a) dominant positions/organisations in society remain captured by narrow, elite groups and that (b) current educational systems appear incapable of resisting this.

The more specific link to my research is articulated well by Richard Croucher in his article which locates the current TU renewal dilemma in the 1930's renewal challenge to organised labour following the depression era:

In particular I assert the loss of an independent network of pro-labour/worker educational bodies (and sadly including Ruskin College in this context) places the project of contemporary renewal in significant danger. Such bodies have historically generated the ideas/minds required to populate civil society institutions (within and outwith organised labour) and assert progressive political ideas.

The loss of the network of radical, independent educational bodies to generate and sustain alternative political ideas should be of concern to us. It features as the focus of this year's Critical Labour Studies Conference 7-8 July. Register here:
Please read the Croucher article and post feedback - and get to CLS 2018 if you can.

In Solidarity


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