1st International Conference of Scuola Democratica Journal


Education and Post-Democracy


Cagliari 6/7/8th of June 2019


Call for panels


In a volume published in 2004, the English sociologist Colin Crouch highlighted the effects that several countries have been subjected to as a result of the forces of globalization. Among these is having to deal with a phase of Post-democracy characterized chiefly by the increased power of economic forces that have progressively usurped political spaces and democratic decision-making mechanisms. Fourteen years later, the term has become even more pertinent and complex due to the increasing spread on the international scene of forms of authoritarian “democracy” that have grown out of neo-populist and often openly xenophobic sovereign political movements.

These two regressive forms of post-democracy (one spawned by neo-liberalism and the other by populism) today represent a historical challenge for the world of education and culture because it is on this ground, as well as on purely political and economic grounds, that decisive battles are being contested. To what extent are the processes of even informal learning and socialization for both young people and adults affected by these trends? How can they resist or at least try to resist them?

We are dealing here with both material and immaterial challenges which call into question the very idea of modern justice and democracy and demand new cultural initiatives, vision and practices from educational operators and scholars (in schools, universities, in training). In particular, they cut cross four important dimensions of the educational systems – ethical-political socialization, difference, inclusion and innovation – all of which appear to be burdened by a host of antinomies.

For example, if on the one hand, in Western countries there seems to be a reaffirmation of nationalism and the patterns of cultural, ethnic, religious/political fundamentalism such as the emergence of logics of identity closure, on the other, communication technology flows, mobility (forced and voluntary) of peoples and cultures and the circulation of people for training and professional reasons is preparing the terrain for new opportunities for inclusion and the recognition of differences. The risks of involution are particularly acute in countries such as Italy, where the historical roots of democracy are more fragile, good levels of schooling of the mostly adult population are often lacking and where there is a persistent lack of attention on the part of schools and universities for addressing ethical-political socialization in a democratic sense.

What space for innovation? Never before has there been a period in which material and immaterial innovations have challenged the world of education, through new infrastructure and new technical progress, which have combined to create tension between the uniformity and pluralization of educational practices and pedagogies.

Moreover, the isomorphic nature of policies and educational agendas on a global and national scale, which tend towards a logic of accountability and rationalization of practices (the centralising of assessment, the shifting of management activities onto digital platforms, the rationalization of economic resources) make educational environments apparently more transparent (from the point of view of rules and institutional procedures). On the other hand, such environments can also be obscure because of the strong influence of the dynamics of local logic regarding the interpretation and adaptation of regulatory and technological dispositifs.

Are educational institutions still the places where open and democratic societies are constructed? Do they still play a role in constructing the utopia (or rhetoric) of the “Knowledge Society”? Or are they becoming market-oriented agencies capable only of fueling the competitiveness of the neoliberal model? A further, central question to pose regards which forms of education are involved when we debate the need to move from the logic of knowledge to that of competences. Is it simply that neoliberal dispositifs are intent on stressing the importance of visible and measurable cognitive structures in order to reinforce increasingly competitive and unequal labor markets? Or maybe we are dealing with the new challenge of overcoming the traditional logic that made education systems places where pre-established and validated knowledge was formed in a frontal and traditional way, and in which existing social differences were reproduced?

The conference intends to explore these antinomies in order to focus on the roles and functions of educational systems, on a global and local scale, to see if and how, along with the persistence/ emergence of social, cultural and gender imbalances and inequalities, innovations and practices of inclusion of differences can effectively emerge.


Here below we list the main questions for panels to discuss, though other suggestions will also be considered:

  1. Ethical-political socialization
  2. Technologies and education
  3. Educational policies and issues of scale
  4. Educational policies and digitization
  5. Competences/Knowledge
  6. Inclusion and adult education
  7. Digital platforms and the challenges of datafication
  8. Teacher training
  9. Ranking and competition: check or resource for education
  10. Leadership and headship
  11. Inclusion and differences
  12. Teaching at school: epistemologies, methods and tools
  13. University teaching: from teaching to learning
  14. Family school relationships
  15. International surveys: comparison and competition
  16. Management and assessment practices in schools
  17. The economics of education: free markets and inclusion
  18. Social inequalities in education
  19. Femininity and masculinity at school
  20. Logics and practices of school guidance with regard to services and marketing
  21. The politics of school-work alternation after the “Buona Scuola”
  22. Education outside the formal contexts of school and university
  23. Academic and professional cultures in education.


With this initiative, Scuola Democratica wishes to inaugurate the first International Conference of the journal and invites you to participate in forming the panels. The proposals for discussion topics must be sent in Italian and English and must include a brief description of the subject of interest proposed (maximum 400 words), as well as some information regarding the Convenors (maximum 50 words including email address). We would ask you to send proposals by 30 September 2018. The Convenors will receive news on the acceptance of their proposals by October 15, 2018. In addition to the brief description of the theme, the Convenors are also asked to indicate 4 keywords of their specific theme.

The Convenors, in coordination with the Board of the Conference, will be independent in organizing each panel, which must have at least 4 contributions. If an abstract is considered to be interesting but not relevant to the interests of a particular panel, it will be redirected to the Board of the Conference, who will then direct it to another panel dealing with a theme closer to the theme proposed in the abstract. If a topic receives less than four abstracts, the Scientific Board may decide to link the contributions to another panel.




  • October 15, 2018: Deadline for the call for topics;
  • October 30, 2018: Notification of acceptance of topics and themes to debate;
  • November 15: Public announcement of the Conference with call for abstracts;
  • February 15, 2019: Deadline for the presentation of abstracts;
  • March 15, 2019: Notification of the authors of the acceptance or rejection of abstracts;
  • March 30, 2019: Early registration deadline;
  • April 30, 2019: Closure of registrations;
  • May 15, 2019: Publication of the finalized program for the Conference;
  • June 6/7/8, 2019: Conference.


CONTACTS: callfortracks@scuolademocratica-conference.netsegreteria@scuolademocratica.it

FURTHER INFO: www.scuolademocratica-conference.net