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On Character Education: Self-Formation and Forms of Life in a Morphogenic Society

TitleOn Character Education: Self-Formation and Forms of Life in a Morphogenic Society
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMaccarini AM
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published02/2016
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
Keywordscharacter, Education, selfhood, social and emotional skills

The essay discusses the concept of character, and some related notions, as they emerge in the contemporary discourse on education. The aim of this article is to provide a sociological interpretation of the increasing relevance of such notions within education policy agendas at the global level. More precisely, the focus is on what could be described as an intensification of reflexivity upon the human being, and a growing interest in the ‘whole child’ in educational agendas, i.e. in personal development beyond the learning outcomes regarding academic topics. The argument develops three main points. First, the principal structural and cultural conditionings are examined that play a role in fostering the renewed importance of personhood. Furthermore, different conceptual frameworks are examined that result in different psycho-semantics. The essay shows how such concepts as character and social and emotional skills (SES) epitomize different, comprehensive conceptions of human selfhood. The article examines their divergence and convergence alike. Finally, some possibilities of integration between the approaches of character and SES are briefly sketched.