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Political and Aesthetic Equality in the Work of Jacques Rancière: Applying his Writing to Debates in Education and the Arts

McDonnell, J (2017) Political and Aesthetic Equality in the Work of Jacques Rancière: Applying his Writing to Debates in Education and the Arts. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 51 (2). pp. 387-400. ISSN 0309-8249

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Abstract

This paper draws on insights from Jacques Ranci`ere’s writingon politics and aesthetics to offer new perspectives on debatesin education and the arts. The paper addresses three debatesin turn; the place o f contemporary art in schools and galleryeducation, the role of art in democratic education and theblurring of boundaries between participatory art andcommunity education. I argue that Ranci`ere’s work helps toilluminate some essentialist assumptions behind dichotomousarguments about contemporary art in the classroom—bothover-hyped claims about its value, and exaggerated fearsabout its threat to educational values alike. On democraticeducation I argue that his work highlights the importance ofthe aesthetic dimensions of democratic learning and, on artand community education, I issue caution against readings ofRanci`ere’s work that frame his contribution as a‘rehabilitation‘ of the aesthetic. Although each debate istackled discretely, the paper advances the overall argumentthat attention to equality in Ranci`ere’s work—both aestheticand political—is vital when applying his philosophy to debatesthat occupy the boundaries of education, politics and art.

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