The following was originally posted on The People’s Book Project.
So this has been a very productive period for writing lately! I wrote for about 24 hours last week (not counting any research time), and have achieved a great deal of progress on my chapter on the origins and development of the modern consumer society as a means of social control. That chapter currently stands at roughly 40 pages single-spaced, and there is still more work to do, though it is mostly revolved around finishing particular sections, properly organizing it into relevant categories and headings, and ensuring that it has a consistent and relevant flow and perspective. This is especially important, as when I start a chapter, I continually do research while writing the chapter, and thus, by the time I finish, my perspective and understanding of the issue has changed, so it is important to go through the chapter with an intent to properly analyze and make cohesive the general ideas and perspective so that the chapter does not appear desultory and choppy.
In terms of financial information for the Project, in the past week I worked 24 hours @ 15$/hour, making my payment $360.00. Total donations for the past week (and in fact, past two weeks) are $10.00. The remaining budget of the Project stands at $292.80, which will definitely run out by next week, at which point the project will be temporarily broke. So I am hoping to be able to continue with this, or I will look into other avenues of funding this week. I have had some people make suggestions for other fundraising sites, the most popular of which is kickstarter.com, however, that requires you to be located in the United States, which leaves me out. There was another similar site which fundraises for particular projects, though I have been hesitant to use it as it would mean largely shutting down this specific project, and again, it’s not a sure thing as it is, so I will gauge developments over the next week and then possibly explore other alternatives. My motivation and momentum in writing is at a high right now, and I really want to keep this going and not have to worry about searching for other sources of income, which would surely slow progress on the book. Regardless of the success of this specific project, I would just like to sincerely thank everyone who has contributed thus far, it means a great deal, and an enormous amount of writing has been achieved due to your support. Much of this book has only been made possible because of your efforts, so it is greatly appreciated.
Another chapter I began writing is one which directly precedes the chapter on consumer society (I tend to work backwards in my chapters). This chapter is on the origins of the social control model developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, tracing the development of mass schooling (that is, compulsory public education) from Europe (specifically Prussia) in the 17th and 18th centuries, and making its way to the United States in the 19th century. Thus far, I have written roughly 12 pages of this chapter (just over the weekend), and have, in that space, covered the origins and spread of mass education as a means of nation-building and social control. There are a number of theories on the development and spread of mass education: the mainstream theory being based on Enlightenment ideals and the triumph of the individual in the liberal democratic society, that education was a natural corollary of the emergence of liberal democratic states. Another popular critical theory is that industrialization gave rise to mass education, with the aim of producing and acclimating citizens to the industrial, mechanical life of a worker in a factory, getting them adjusted to the regimentation of the clock, submissive to institutional sources of authority, to have actions directed and ideas indoctrinated. My sources for this portion of the chapter are primarily academic journals, though I have gone to specific researchers, predominantly historians and sociologists, who have undertaken the best researched and most accurate rendering of the spread of mass education I have come across. Analyzing all available evidence on the issue, the researchers critically examine the various common theories and conclude that none of them stand up to the evidence: the origins of mass education did not originate in liberal democratic states, but rather, in more authoritarian systems; nor did industrialization create mass schooling, as it originated in many areas prior to industrialization having reached these areas. However, the researchers do contend that liberal democratic values were included in studies and the process of education, but was not the impetus for its creation; as well as that, the rise of industrialization did influence the schools into the arena of creating an obedient worker class, though again, this was not the impetus behind the origin. Instead, the authors conclude, and as I examine, it was the impetus of nation-building – the act of strengthening a national identity, forging a national society, and strengthening the state – which led to the development of mass education. The aim, then, was in forging a system of social control.
This is as far as I have gotten in this chapter currently, but there is a great deal more to be analyzed in the chapter, including the social relevance of the classroom itself for the purpose of social control, the origins and development of higher education – tertiary and university level – as well as the development and origins of the social sciences as a means to create social engineers for a new ‘managerial society,’ or what I refer to as an ‘institutional society.’ I will also examine the specific theories that developed within the social sciences in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on a ‘theory of social control’, particularly emanating from Sociology. Depending on the space permitted, I might include the origins, nature, and original actions and avenues of the major philanthropic foundations. However, given the rather immense scope of that chapter, focusing on the development and designs of the foundations, as well as their original avenues of action, and specifically, their influence over the educational system, among other avenues, I may have to make the foundations have their own chapter. But this I will judge likely after completing this chapter. I am hoping to finish either this chapter or the one on the consumer society this week, it just depends which one I am more attracted to writing at the time.
I’ll keep you posted!