All the lonely people: the struggle for private meaning and public purpose

Goodson, Ivor (2007) All the lonely people: the struggle for private meaning and public purpose Critical Studies in Education, 48 (1). pp. 131-148. ISSN 1750-8487

Full text not available from this repository.


This paper argues that the "new world order" achieved at the end of the cold war is in crisis, not generated from the threat of "war" between Christian and Islamic worlds but from "within" western societies, specifically from the growing commercialisation and "privatisation" of social and community life which has uncoupled the systems and activities of society from the collective and individual purposes of people who comprise that society. Drawing on interview data (life and work histories) from three cohorts (1950s-1960s, 1970s-1980s, 1990s to present) of US and Canadian teachers, the paper identifies evidence of this crisis in the fields of culture, education and public service (e.g. in the turning away from public and towards private pursuits as the motivation for one's "life's work" or "passion"). It also looks to these fields in the search for answers to what motivates people and sponsors their meaning-making, specifically whether privatisation should be our only route to human meaning. The paper concludes that the personal "missions" that people bring to their employment may be accommodated in some parts of the business world where people are given freedom to pursue their own "projects", but these are largely frustrated in the micro-managed and re-regulated regimes of the public sector. Indeed, without invoking some "golden age", the sense of vocation, public duty and "caring professionalism" that characterised the "top end" and "backbone" of the public sector is diminishing as large numbers begin to withdraw their "hearts and minds" while implementing the mandates and missions of others.

Item Type: Journal article
Subjects: X000 Education > X200 Education Research
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1080/17508480601120954
Faculties: Faculty of Education and Sport > School of Education > Education Research Centre
Depositing User: Miss Elizabeth Briggs
Date Deposited: 26 May 2010
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2015 12:21

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year