Pedagogical Imagination. One Epistemic Bridge between Social Justice and Recognition in Education.

Correa Arias, Cesar (2016). 'Pedagogical Imagination. One Epistemic Bridge between Social Justice and Recognition in Education.' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

The concern for fair societies has taken, mainly from the postwar years, a central meaning within the communities of practices, inspired for their cultural and political autonomy. Perhaps, it is one of the main reasons because social justice is today, in the center of all social processes. Thus, the contemporary conceptions of justice involve the development of the personality and the promotion of diverse capabilities of each one of the individuals of all societies, in the horizon of a eudaimonia, -the realization of a meaningful life in Aristotelian terms-, and in the situation of diversity allowing people to live, in the vast exercise of freedom and democracy. However, it is in the entrails of the institutions of society where social justice encounters the wider contradictions and difficulties. Those start from the lack of individuals’ social participation and less opportunities to develop their personality along to the establishment of social asymmetries within these institutions.
However, as much as these contradictions are extremely important, they are not exclusively related to the limitation of social faculties, or the degradation of political emotions, the reduction of social democratic spaces and social participation associated to the impacts of the late capitalism, neither, exclusively justified by a postmodern social condition based in a remorselessly futility, consumerism, defeatism and disappointment, but as well, and perhaps more importantly, they are link to a deficit of a pedagogical imagination in the core of social learning.
This represents the loss of a pedagogical intuition, intention and imagination needed to build a learning process within a social project geared to the construction of a meaningful human life, which may cause deinstitutionalization and des-socialization, disorders in the individuals’ social projects and put in jeopardy the viability of societies.
These social pathologies might be understood as the inability to build socio-cognitive capacities to know, understand and responsibly embody social categories such as democracy, solidarity, recognition, hospitality, social inclusion, social justice, among many others.
In general, educational institutions, insofar as individuals have the possibility of access to them, represent a nuclear agent in the configuration of regulated and planned social learning.
It is important at this point to relate the importance of pedagogical imagination inside the processes of social recognition. Currently, several theories point out recognition as a key factor to achieve social justice. In Habermas (1999), and Honneth (1992) their work is linked to a normative view of recognition, and the idealization of it as negative forms of recognition that are not materialized by the institutions in concrete, real and meaningful actions.
For its part, in Ricoeur’s philosophy of action (2004), recognition is defined by an ethical construction towards to the Aristotelian idea of the Good life. This recognition is presented as a necessity of a mutual, concerted and symmetrical social construction between individuals.
In Levinas (1977), recognition goes through a Humanism of the other man to become responsible, as being-for-the other by a disproportional delivered to the other in the form of exceedance. In Fraser (2004), recognition is related to theories of distribution of roles, equal opportunities and resources, which makes valid an honest recognition from institutions and society.
In Taylor (1985), recognition is intertwined with the concept of modern authenticity as a possible path to emancipation of local identity and the legitimacy of multiculturalism; and through a theory of capabilities, Sen (1985) and Nussbaum (1998) show us the possibilities of combining internal capabilities and political, cultural, economic and general social situations (combined capabilities), which are fundamental requirements for a person to access to a decent life.
However, it seems that only in these two recent authors stand out a pedagogical orientation towards the concern of learning and the embodiment of social categories such as justice, honesty, practical wisdom, solidarity, autonomy, etc., required of a meaningful life with others and oriented by social justice.
Therefore pedagogy in the vast spectrum of the term must reach the main important discussions regarding justice and social recognition. Among these theoretical developments pedagogy is able to point out possible options in the construction of the concept of inclusive and just education.
Certainly, if it is true that there is a cognitive moral, that we are able to acquire a second nature through learning, or to familiarize with categories and the assimilation of normative forms aimed to the construction and exercise of a dignified life, or we also learn to improve our elections and our judgments, and that there are cognitive operations in the construction of an ethical life (Sittlichkeit), it may be true as well in consequence, that in all these processes can be directly involved the presence of a pedagogical imagination, that allows us to value content, methodologies, processes, actions and practices that can be learned aim to the construction and exercise of that dignified life.
We are not affirming a particular didactic towards the achievement of the Good life, or to a such pedagogy restricted only to pedagogues and educators; on the contrary, we consider the participation of Education Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, in the effort to learn how to build and legitimately exercise of social recognition and educational inclusion as part of the main foundations of a decent life.
This ongoing research is develop within the international network of socio-historical studies in education (universities of Mexico and Spain). This research aims to analyze the role of the pedagogical imagination within institutions of higher education, as the bedrock of social learning within all social contexts in different communities and diverse contexts and social conditions.
We use an interpretative methodology with a qualitative scope, a comparative study between the nature and impact of the objects of study related to social and education inclusion from the of students of the Master in Social Education and the PhD of Educational Sciences from the University of Granada, Spain, and the Master in Educational research and the PhD of Education from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico. The use of In-depth interviews will allow us to recover life stories related to social and educational inclusion.

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