CIRCEFT (Interdisciplinary Centre for Research into Culture, Education, Training and Work) is a research unit at Université Paris 8 Saint-Denis and Université Paris-Est Créteil. It brings together 35 research-professors in different disciplines (primarily education sciences, but also sociology, linguistics, French language and literature, and English languages and literatures) and more than 50 doctoral students.
CIRCEFT carries out fundamental research into educational policies and educational phenomena in contemporary societies. Our work combines a variety of interdisciplinary approaches in order to provide rigorous and documented analyses of the complex relations between contemporary evolutions and the contradictions found within educational institutions and students’ educational and social pathways. At the same time, we take care to ensure relations situated in their socio-historical contexts and to take into account class and gender relations, specific and subjective processes, and the issues of knowledge and power. Our research also includes intervention studies in classrooms and schools, conducted in order to assess the effects of support given to teaching teams and to analyse the teaching practices used in different fields, such as priority education (education prioritaire), or in so-called “difficult” contexts or neighbourhoods.
Although our research is aimed primarily at the education sciences community, it is also of value to other fields within the human and social sciences that contribute to education research. Furthermore, it has practical implications for issues such as the challenges facing teachers and educators, teacher training, teacher support measures, and the implementation of education policies and systems within institutions at different levels (from local to national).
CIRCEFT’s three teams
- Education and Training Clinic Collective (CLEF)
The CLEF consists of 6 research professors together with associate research professors and doctoral students. Our research uses psychoanalytical, socio-clinical and institutional approaches to investigate the effects of contemporary changes on subjective and identity-related constructions and on social ties in socio-educational, healthcare and teaching institutions.
The collective’s research covers four themes:
– Education and healthcare professions clinic: professional reflexivity, professionalization processes and ethics at work;
– Contemporary issues affecting adolescents; new normativities applied to childhood and adolescence;
– Educational institutions, subjectivities, transmission and historization processes: narratives, writings, analysis of practices;
– Psychoanalysis and education: narratives and epistemology.
The CLEF’s members play a leading role in the Cliopsy inter-university network and in producing the Cliopsy journal. They are also deeply involved in encouraging the use of psychoanalysis-inspired approaches in educational research, both in France and internationally. Our research and training activities within this theme have a strong international (mostly Europe and Latin America) dimension.
- Education and Schooling Collective (ESCOL)
ESCOL was created more than 30 years ago to investigate the processes underlying the creation of social, sexual and geographical inequalities in education and in access to knowledge, intellectual professions and cultural practices. The themes studied by the collective’s 24 research professors and 6 associate researchers and young doctors bring together issues relating to:
– Changes in the school system and education policies (particularly priority education policies and training and certification policies),
– The differentiation of teaching and learning practices in different contexts (especially “difficult” contexts and establishments),
– Changes to curricula, educational offers, teaching and cultural approaches, and the materials available to different types of students (depending on age, sex, social milieu, level of education, subject, context and type of establishment).
Doing this requires examining a variety of scales (Revel, 1996) and applying relational (milieus and social experiments) and contextual (diachronic and synchronic comparisons) approaches to investigating the processes that create inequalities in education.
In 2001, two of ESCOL’s members founded the RESEIDA (Research into Socialisation, Teaching, Inequalities and Differentiations in Learning) inter-university network, which now includes 10 French research groups and around 50 research professors and doctoral students. As well as carrying out multidisciplinary research into how inequalities in education arise, RESEIDA’s members play important roles in numerous academic networks and associations.
- History of Education Collective (HEDUC)
HEDUC is a group of 4 research professors and 2 associate researchers whose work focuses on “educations” (in their plurality) and on the intersections between “ordinary” school education, special education, progressive education and popular education, from the 19th to 21st centuries.
Its recent studies have focused on the great progressive education congresses, European experiments with villages, republics or communities for child war victims, the birth of infant psychiatry in Europe, the history of juvenile justice and of special education, and the AP-HP’s (Public Welfare-Paris Hospitals) efforts to protect Jewish children during World War II. HEDUC also helps catalogue and valorise (exhibitions, books, etc.) archive collections, in partnership with numerous schools and institutions involved in social work and justice.
In addition, HEDUC’s members play an important role in running the Revue d’histoire de l’enfance irrégulière and contribute to several national and international networks (ISHE, ATHRE, etc.) in the fields of history of education, social policy and justice.
CIRCEFT’s four common themes
- Historical and contemporary changes in conceptions of childhood and adolescence, culture and education, and education policies and institutions.
This theme brings together studies relating to:
- Changes in school systems, education policies (notably policies on priority education, certification and diplomas), “the grammar of schooling”, curricula and learning materials available to students;
- Changes in progressive education and special education institutions (notably the universitization of teacher training);
- Trans-generational transmission processes and the uncertainties of identity constructs and subjectification;
- Changes in conceptions of childhood and adolescence, but also of socialization, knowledge and learning;
- Progressive education and the sources, dissemination, reception and influences of teaching theories and orthodoxies.
One of our objectives for the forthcoming five-year plan (2020-2024) is to develop this theme by integrating international comparisons and increasing international collaborations. Doing so will help us clarify the relations between the “macro-social” changes occurring around the world and the ways these changes are hybridised and modified in order to suit different national and infra-national contexts (especially contexts of economic and social vulnerability and insecurity). At the same time, we will examine the new or remodelled difficulties these changes cause for institutions and education professionals, but also the subjectification of these professionals and of the children, adolescents and young adults they work with.
- New modes of social division in educational work in different types of institution (school, special education, social work, early childhood, healthcare, etc.).
Studies within this theme focus on:
- Evolutions in professional identities and practices, between new normativities and prescriptions, developing the power to act and to think, reflexivity and ethical positions;
- The circulation of knowledge, tools and artefacts (including digital tools), ideals, orthodoxies and ideologies between professional milieus, their uses and their influence in different contexts;
- On-going modes of intergenerational renewal within different teaching professions and institutions.
Here, we are particularly interested in the ways in which confrontational socio-institutional contexts, often involving highly fragile and economically insecure children, adolescents and young adults, challenge or even weaken teachers’ ideals, conceptions and beliefs, and the practices and systems these conceptions and beliefs underlie. Our aim is also to provide a better understanding of changes and fluctuations in professionalization processes, in initial and continuing training, and in the mechanisms used to analyse professional practices. New modes of social division in education will be the theme of a workshop being organized jointly by CIRCEFT’s three research teams for 2019.
- The processes underlying social, sexual and geographical inequalities in access to different levels and types of training, knowledge and cultural ways of thinking, and the school drop-out processes associated with them.
This theme examines the intersections between, on the one hand, contextualized adaptations of teaching content, practices and systems, and, on the other hand, students’ aptitudes for and relationships with knowledge and educational and cultural practices. It also looks at modes of interaction between the different normative worlds in which students live (school, family, peer groups, extracurricular and cultural activities and facilities, etc.), the dissemination of cultural objects and practices, and relationships with language, study, the future and the work of historization. Given the multi-layered nature of social structures, the processes underlying inequalities in education, and the marginalization or social disaffiliation processes associated with them, can only be understood by examining them on a variety of contextual and temporal scales (Revel, 1996). It is also necessary to take into account the relations between thought processes and affects, that is, between the cognitive and subjective components of the school experience and of children’s, adolescents’ and young adults’ education. A further aim is to find better ways of combining gender relations, class relations and social domination processes, on the one hand, and residential, social and school segregation processes, on the other hand, in studies of relationships with knowledge and with schooling for different types of students in different contexts and at different levels.
- Epistemological reflection, concept development, methodological plurality and inventiveness.
In this theme we investigate the complementarities between different theoretical and methodological approaches, examining the strengths and limitations of each, and the different scales on which they can be combined. We are also interested in the dialectical and reciprocal relations between empirical studies and conceptual and theoretical design; bringing together the diachronic and synchronic dimensions of the objects and processes being studied; objectifying and clarifying the social and subjective relationship between investigators, study objects and the individuals among whom these studies are carried out. This focus has four main objectives:
- To take a new look at the instrumental and subjective processes and modalities involved in constructing, producing and transforming relationships with knowledge, and the anchoring of these processes in historical and social contexts;
- To investigate the role of language and different language practices (from storytelling to argumentation) in different areas of life (school, work, social life), including research;
- To examine the links between social and subjective processes;
- To explore the relationships between “ordinary” childhoods or educations, and marginal, insecure, irregular and special childhoods or educations, or even between the “normal” and the “pathological” in educational processes and institutions.