Article

Totalitarian school politics during fascism in Italy and their transgenerational effects

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Abstract

Purpose The research is rooted in the interest in educational biographies of ethnic and linguistic minorities in Europe during the twentieth century. The purpose of this paper is to give an answer to the question of how the nationalistic educational norms during the period of totalitarian regimes manifested themselves in the educational biographies of minorities, and how much individuals and collectives transferred their scholastic denationalisation experiences (e.g. prohibition of alphabetisation in their mother tongue) to the following generations. In other words, if and how traces of the previously named experiences, for example the attitude towards education, can be found in insecurities and attitudes of the first or even the second follow-up generation. Design/methodology/approach The theoretical foundation used for this research is the conception of school as “institutional actor” theorised by Helmut Fend (2006). Fend used a widened concept based upon Weber’s (1922/1988) action-theoretical, Luhmann’s (2002) system-theoretical and Scharpf’s (2000) and Schaefers’ (2002) institution-centred approaches. This scientific background designs a theoretical concept of school fitted for the social and pedagogical research field. Specifically, in Fend’s analysis of design- and action-oriented potentials, Fend (2006) “turns his special attention to the processes in the educational field, which are implemented by actors, who themselves act in the context of institutional framework conditions” (p. 17). Findings The experience of school in totalitarian contexts manifests itself in individual and collective memories, later found in the following generations with particular emphasis on the approaches towards education. Originality/value This paper analyses the transgenerational impact of the experiences ethnical minorities had with schools.

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