Cultural transmission under harassment: avatars of common culture in school

In this article, I advance some arguments about what is perceived as the crisis of the act of transmitting or passing over culture to new generations. More specifically, I am interested in understanding what is built into the discussion of what a common culture is, and what role schools play in their formation. Schools were institutions that were conceived for producing a core of common references that allowed people to be included in the national society and turn into citizens. Today, both the idea of a 'common culture' and the notion of tradition and cultural reproduction appear to be under siege. First, this siege is linked to the decline of modern humanities as the reference centre for common culture - a decline that has been taking place for over a century. Second, what is taking place is a profound transformation of the ideas of tradition and cultural reproduction, and of the ways in which they are performed. Both elements are discussed in this article. Finally, I suggest some criteria to rethink the passing over of a cultural tradition in schools, taking into account the challenges and questions that have been posed to the construction of a tradition in present conditions


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