Circulating Ideas and Visualizations in Educational Transition Discourses

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Lisa-Marian SCHMIDT , Sociology, Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Circulating representations of knowledge have been a central concern of Science and Technology Studies (STS). Depending on the conceptual approaches, they highlight either the stabilizing or flexible aspects of distributing and bridging knowledge through social worlds (e.g. Latour, Griesemer/Star).

For conceptualizing the circulation and transformation of ideas and knowledge (Latour), I will focus on commonly used circulating visualizations (maps, lists, graphs etc.) and related practices that visualize and facilitate the transition from school to work. Visualizations can be conceived as mediators, instruments and symbols of specific social orders and related knowledge formations. They typically serve to stabilize the relationships in which they are embedded. As representations and material artifacts they enable and/or constrain the distribution of knowledge. For a systematic analysis and a deeper understanding of the relationship between ideas, knowledge, and their visualizations I will combine STS concepts (e.g. immutable mobiles and boundary objects) with a discourse perspective from the sociology of knowledge (Keller).

In current German developing educational discourse there are typical ways to visualize the transition from school to work, which I regard as travelling ideas and symbols. On the one hand, these maps and charts represent specific theories and classifications of career paths, the function of school in society and classifications of the students and their skills. On the other hand, past negotiations and practices of sorting relevant and irrelevant aspects of transition knowledge are made invisible in these representations.

The study of the circulation of ideas, knowledge, and symbols needs to take these aspects into account. In addition, it should focus on the practices of translating and transforming the visualizations between different social worlds or the strategic use of certain communicative forms e.g. in arenas, where the constitutions of relevant topics or problems are negotiated.