Paulo Freire and the production of democratic subjectivities: from the refusal of guidance to the promotion of autonomy

Eduardo Dullo About the author

In 1959 Paulo Freire interpreted the Brazilian case as consisting of a "fundamental antinomy": "the emergency of the people in the public life" had no proper correspondent in their "mental disposition" to act, since they had no experience with democratic regimes. The main objective of the text is to analyse Freire's pedagogical proposition as an attempt to find a solution to this historical national problem by pointing how he tried to produce democratic and citizen subjectivities. I discuss, therefore, two concepts: guidance and autonomy and suggest an interpretation of Freire's pedagogy in two hierarchical levels: in the lower level there is a horizontal dialogic exchange and in the vertical, encompassing level, there is a transformation of the "mental dispositive". By focusing on the documental research around the "Angicos Experiment" I show how the tension between these two levels has constituted the main difficulty they faced - to produce autonomy from an authoritative relation.

Paulo Freire; political education; citizenship; autonomy


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