Monday, 27 June 2011

2014 entry preliminary readings

The MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism brings together students and staff with a very wide range of backgrounds and life experiences, differing levels of practitioner experience in social movements or adult education, different academic backgrounds etc. - and uses that difference as a strength to learn from each other and come to see ourselves in a bigger picture and connect up our knowledge and politics with other people's.

This also makes it a bit challenging, and we've put together a list of preliminary readings which may be helpful to those about to do the course, those thinking about doing the course in future years and those thinking about the issues raised on the course. Please note that we are not suggesting that you should read all of this before starting the course! You might however feel that there are particular areas where you would be starting from scratch and you would like to have something to work with - that's what this is for.

Where to start?

If you feel you're a complete beginner, don't despair - many people feel that and then discover that they know more than they think :-) If you wanted to read just one book, though, you might try Cynthia Kaufman's Ideas for action (Boston: South End Press, 2003). Kaufman is a long-standing activist (since Latin American solidarity in the 1980s, now involved in tenant rights organising and advising Students for Justice) and this book is a real handbooks for activists which brings together understanding the social mechanisms which explain why injustice happens, the political choices we have in organising and educating for a more equal society and the intellectual tools we need to make a better world. The book is out of print but can currently be had for less than £2 from the ABEbooks network of second-hand bookshops at this address - or you can download the whole thing (free) in PDF from the author's site. You can also read good chunks of it on Google Books.

Many of the texts listed here are available free online; unfortunately some are only available from within university libraries. Book-length titles are only rarely available online (though it is worth checking on, Google Books and They can often be ordered cheaply from ABEbooks as per above. Remember also that public libraries can order books for you which are available in other libraries. 

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not a complete list of modules (there are also elective modules available from other MAs), and that listing a module here is not an absolute guarantee that it will be available in 2014-15.

Community of praxis (core module)
This module is primarily about you preparing material and offering your experiences for group discussion - it is about how we as movement practitioners and community educators work with our experience, cultural resources, theories etc. If you want to prepare something, we suggest you read one of two kinds of things, depending on what feels most useful.
One would be a "how-to" book on the nuts and bolts of organising - perhaps something from a movement different to your own. One of the following might be a good possibility:
Anne Hope et al., Training for transformation: a handbook for community workers - this is based on experiences in rural African communities
George Lakey, Powerful peacemaking: strategy for a living revolution (associated material here) - this is structured around non-violent direct action
Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos, Tools for radical democracy - this is drawn mainly from US community organising
Starhawk, Dreaming the dark OR Truth or dare (see her resources for trainers here) - this is feminist, spiritually-informed direct action around environmental and peace issues
TRAPESE, Do it yourself: a handbook for changing our world. All online free here - this is from British movements doing community education around climate justice issues

The other is to read a text looking at more strategic and philosophical issues around what kind of society we are trying to get to, how the ends and means are related, etc. Again, you might find it useful to read something from a different perspective to your own:
Saul Alinsky, Rules for radicals - US community organising
Myles Horton and Paolo Freire, We make the road by walking (on Google Books here) - two founders of community education
Interface activist discussion about strategies for change here (start p.243)- perspectives from a range of different movements around the globe
Notes from Nowhere, We are everywhere. Online here - Global anti-capitalist movements
Judy Rebick, Transforming power: from the personal to the political. Summaries and links online free here - Rebick is the organiser of the Canadian website
Raymond Williams, Resources of hope: culture, democracy, socialism. Online here - classic radicalism

Research methods (core module)
This module will offer students the opportunity to develop, engage in and present their own research in community, equality and praxis. It will give space for students to develop and research from their life experiences, community engagement, activist practice and educational encounters (including praxis developed within this course). We will support and encourage innovative research that embodies the praxis of community education, equality and praxis. This work is supported by the accompanying research methods module and is complemented by the work of supervisors.

Oakley, A. (2000). Experiments in knowing: Gender and method in the social sciences. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Radical education and critical pedagogy (core module)
Our basic suggestion on this would be bell hooks, Teaching to transgress. If you want to read further about this we would suggest Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed.

Further reading includes:
Mills, C. W. (1959) The Sociological Imagination:
-Chapter 1. The Promise
-On Intellectual Craftsmanship
Bauman, Z. (2001) Thinking Sociologically -Chapter 1
Illich, I. (1970) Deschooling Society
Dale, R. et al (eds) (1976) Schooling and Capitalism: A Sociological Reader including
-Towards a political economy of education: A radical critique of Deschooling Society Gintis
-Unequal education and the reproduction of the social division of labour. Bowles
Haralambos (2005) Sociological Themes and Perspectives:
- Extracts from classic Sociological Theories of Education.
Brookfield, S. (2005) The Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning and Teaching

Power and politics (core module)
This coming year the textbook for the course is Colin Barker et al., Marxism and social movements. Sample chapters from the book can be found online here (introduction, here (Alf Nilsen), here (Elizabeth Humphrys and Colin Barker), here (Alf and Laurence Cox), and here (Laurence). All authors have the right to post their chapters online so more are probably available with a bit of searching! (NB if you are buying the book that there is a much cheaper paperback version available from the US activist publishers Haymarket.)

A lot of relevant material may not be available online. Some selections which are include:
Kirk Helliker, "The state of emancipation", online here
E.P. Thompson, introduction to The Making of the English Working Class
Debate with David Harvey in Interface 2/1, starting p. 243
Online resource for power analysis for social change here
Jo Freeman, The Tyranny of Structurelessness, available here
Marion Young, “Activist challenges to deliberative democracy”, available online here

Some of the selections below may be available online; others are sufficiently "classic" to be found in public libraries etc.
Murray Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism or Toward an Ecological Society, ch. 1
William Carroll’s piece “Crisis, movements, counter-hegemony” in Interface 2/2
Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought, ch. 12
Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch, ch. 1
Michel Foucault, The Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984: Power
Uri Gordon, Anarchy Alive!, ch. 3
John Holloway, Change the World Without Taking Power, ch. 3
George Lakey, Powerful Peacemaking: A Strategy for a Living Revolution (1987 edition), ch. 2
Steven Lukes, Power: a radical view
Lummis, C.D, Radical Democracy.
Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man, ch. 1
C. Wright Mills, The power elite
Starhawk, Truth or Dare: Encounters with power, authority and mystery, ch. 1
Willie Thompson, The left in history

Equality and social justice (core module)
We will be covering a range of themes in this module ranging from theories of equality and social justice; why love, care and solidarity are important; and utopias. If you would like to do some general introductory reading on the subject of Equality over the summer then you might want to read John Baker (2006) “Equality” in Healy, S., Reynolds, B. and Collins, M. L. (eds). Social Policy in Ireland : principles, practice and problems, 2nd ed. Available here. If you’d like to go beyond that here’s a list put together by those of us teaching on the module – all, some, or none of which you might find interesting to read!

Lynch, Kathleen (2010) ‘From a Neo-Liberal to an Egalitarian State: Imagining a Different Future’, 2010 TASC Annual Lecture. Available here
Noddings, N. (2005) 'Caring in education', The encyclopedia of informal education. Available here
Nussbaum, M. and A. Sen (1993) The Quality of Life. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Preview available here
Feeley, Maggie (2007) ‘Redefining Literacy from an Egalitarian Perspective’ in The Adult Learner 2007 AONTAS: Dublin. Available here
Freire, Paulo (1993) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum Books.
Freire, Paulo (1994) Pedagogy of Hope. New York: Continuum Books.
Wilkinson, R. and K. Pickett 2010 The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone [links and web presentations available under resources tabs on bottom left side of this page
Parker, M. (2002) Utopia and Organization:
-Parker, M. Utopia and the Organizational Imagination: Outopia
-Fournier, V. Utopianism and the cultivation of possibilities
-Parker, M. Utopia and the Organizational Imagination: Eutopia
LeGuin, U. (1976) Introduction to The Left hand of Darkness
Harvey, D. (200) Spaces of Hope:
-Spaces of Utopia
-Of bees, architects and ‘species being’
Russell, B. (1932 / 2004) ‘In Praise of Idleness’
Extracts from The Faber Book of Utopias
Perkins Gilman, C. (various) Herland plus selections from Women and Economics
Paine, T. (various) The Rights of Man
Wollstonecraft, M. (various) Vindication of the Rights of Women
Marx, K. Engels, F. (various) The Communist Manifesto

Eisenstein, Hester (2009) Feminism Seduced: How Global Elites Use Women’s Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World

Dark Star Collective (2002) Quiet Rumours. AK Press.
Verloo M. (2006) Multiple Inequalities, intersectionality and the European Union, European Journal of Women’s Studies . 13:211-28. (to give you an idea of how the state gets it wrong!)

Feminist theory and practice (core module)
For those with no background at all in the area we recommend Rosemarie Tong, Feminist thought: a more comprehensive introduction. Otherwise we suggest Alison Jaggar, Feminist politics and human nature. Some of the themes covered in the module include sexuality, women and work, feminist and women’s activism, masculinities, and feminist ways of knowing. The following are a small section of some of the readings that have been used in the module this year and will certainly relate to what is covered in 2011-12.

Combahee River Collective (1977). “A Black Feminist Statement” in Wendy Kolmar, Frances Bartkowski Feminist Theory: A Reader. pp. 272-277
Rosenberg, Jessica and Gitana Garofalo (1998) “Riot Grrrl: Revolutions from within”Signs 23(3): 809-841
Ryan, Anne Feminist Ways of Knowing. NIACE, Leicester, (2001)
Stanley, Liz and Sue Wise (1993) Breaking out Again. London: Routledge.
Whitehead, S. Barrett, F. J. (2001) The Masculinities Reader
-Westwood, S. Feckless Fathers: Masculinities and the British State
There are a number of novels you might find interesting as summer reading including Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time which also touch on many of the debates we’ll cover in the module .
Full syllabus from 2010-11 available upon request.
Critical media and cultural pedagogy in communities (elective)
Some readings on participative media, arts and culture which will hopefully give you a flavour of the thinking that we’ll be exploring in this optional module. We’d like much of the work in this module to be a collaborative co-creation between staff and students, so it’s been hard to choose readings. Instead, I’ve just selected some readings that inspired us in the design of the course:

  • AONTAS special issue on arts available here
  • Fenton, N 2009 ‘Has the Internet changed how NGOs work with established media? Not enough’, Special Report: NGOs and the News on The Nieman Journalism Lab, Harvard University. Available here
  • Meade, R. (2008) "Mayday, Mayday! Newspaper framing anti-globalizers!: A critical analysis of the Irish Independent's anticipatory coverage of the `Day of the Welcomes' demonstrations", Journalism Vol. 9, Number 3
  • Pickard, V. W. (2006) ‘Assessing the Radical Democracy of Indymedia: Discursive, Technical, and Institutional Constructions’ in Critical Studies in Media Communication Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 19-/38 Available here
  • Phillips, A. (2004) ‘Care, Values and an Uncaring Media‘ in Social Policy & Society 3:4, 439–446. Available here
    [Note: this article may not be available to you at the moment, but will be available once you’re registered with the library. I’ve put it on the list as it was the article that inspired us at the outset when we began designing this course.

The state, the market and social movements (elective module)
Fergal Finnegan email:
The course will give a historical and sociological account of the market, the state and social movements drawing on a wide range of disciplines (sociology, economics, labour history, geography and critical theory). It is an invitation to trace some of the roots of the present moment through to the past. 

The course content can be roughly divided into three parts. The first part will look at economic, political and cultural change in Ireland over the past three decades. These shifts will then be linked to broader global changes in a neoliberal era. After this we look at historical accounts of capitalism and resistance that allow us to think through how the market, the state and social movements have developed in relation to each other.
Underlying this is a specific notion of one of the sorts of knowledge that is useful to progressive social movements. To name our reality and how power functions through the market, the state and through social movements is, I think, vital. I believe we need long range and broad models that explain critically how power works and to create shared narratives of oppression and solidarity. However, this is, of course open to question and part of the course will be thinking this through.

Last year the course drew on David Harvey, Michel Foucault, EP Thompson, Sheila Rowbotham, Karl Polanyi, Nancy Fraser, David Graeber, Michael Mann, Charles Tilly, Axel Honneth, Silvia Federici, Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker. Overall, the course is aimed at sketching out the ‘big picture’ (however incomplete and imperfect). The point is to do this together in an open and critical way so a fundamental part of the course will consist of the group identifying the resources and ideas that speak to them. As such the course content is less important than the concerns and issues you wish to think through and the best preparation for the module would be be identify the broad questions about power that you would like to answer. As this module is in the second semester we will certainly have the opportunity to discuss this in advance of the course.

It is not required to read something related to the module beforehand but if you are curious this radio show often discusses ideas that are relevant to the course
If you want to begin looking at how Ireland has changed both of these books are good places to start
Coulter,C. and Coleman, S. (Eds) (2003) The end of Irish history? Critical reflections on the Celtic Tiger. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Kirby, P. (2002a) The Celtic tiger in distress: Growth with inequality in Ireland. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
If neoliberalism is of interest this book is very helpful
Harvey, D. (2005) A brief history of neo-liberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
As is this collection of pieces on recent social movements
If a historical perspective is required a key figure is E P Thompson
Thompson, E. P. (1991). Customs in common. London: Merlin.
Or a slightly more recent example of ‘history from below’ is
Linebaugh, P. & Rediker, M. (2000) The many headed Hydra. London: Verso.
However, if there is a tremendous amount of material out there and if you are looking for something else please just get in touch. Thanks.

Participatory action research in social movement practice (elective module)
It's hard to prepare far in advance for this unless you're already familiar with the practice of social research (and with social movements, obviously): basically, you can have much more productive conversations about something after you've done it once and can see what different issues it throws up.
Having said that, you may get some initial inspiration from 

  • the Action Research Ireland blog here
  • Yolanda Wandsworth’s paper “What is PAR?
  • The CUNY institute’s PAR collective, which has lots of PAR projects working with disadvantaged youth
  • “Nothing about me, without me!” article online here
I've written, or co-written two pieces which activists and social movement researchers have told me they've found useful:
  • Colin Barker and Laurence Cox, "What have the Romans ever done for us? Activist and academic forms of movement theorising". In Colin Barker and Mike Tyldesley (eds.), Eighth international conference on Alternative Futures and Popular Protest conference. Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University (2002), online here
  • Laurence Cox, "Gramsci, movements and method: the politics of activist research". In Colin Barker and Mike Tyldesley (eds.), Fourth international conference on Alternative Futures and Popular Protest conference. Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University (1998), online here
There is some more technical material at
Finally, the first issue of the journal Interface: a journal for and about social movements was dedicated to how social movements produce knowledge. In particular, the article by Mayo Fuster Morell on different kinds of movement research, Fergal Finnegan's review on knowledge production in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Budd Hall's article on learning in environmental social movements and the editorial may be worth reading.

Sustainable organising (mini-section)
A good starting point is the Activist Trauma site
An overview of the area with a lengthy bibliography is
  • Laurence Cox, "Hearts with one purpose alone? Thinking personal sustainability in social movements". Emotion, space and society 2 (2009): 52 – 61, online here
The following is a remarkable collection, focussing particularly on experiences at a very "sharp end":
  • Jane Barry and Jelena Dordevic, What's the use of revolution if we can't dance? Boulder: Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights, online here
This outstanding manual draws particularly on majority world experiences:
  • Marina Bernal et al., Self-care and self-defence for feminist activists. New Delhi: Artemisia / Elige / Crea, online here