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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Building Community in a Globalising World: The Pedagogical Paradigm of John Dewey

Katerina K. Frantzi.

The consequences and conditions of current globalization, if differently articulated, can provide resources for personal or communal growth in new creative directions from actual differences.
Attending Dewey’s thought, the growth of democracy is a socio-political mode of inquiry that attempts to allow living space for conflict, in ways, that, nevertheless, do not transform that conflict into violence, even though accidentality in inquiry implies the possibility of tragedy in political and social life. He argued that “the life of all thought is to effect a junction at some point of the new and the old…that are brought to the light of attention by some conflict with newly emerging directions of activity.” In our historical moment those newly emerging directions are comprised in the phenomenon of globalization.

Dewey was concerned about the dominance of the “Great Society” that was characterized by loosening of human bond in the impersonalization of communication, which resembles modern globalization. Such society consists of self-interested individuals that pursue their own desires. He discerned an apathy and indifference in the phenomena of elimination of civic participation and the consequent weakening of democratic public, that constituted the enemies of democracy within democracy.

He searched for the Great Community that can be created upon unity and counts on mutual understanding, common interests, common goods, political and social education analogous to individual interests and abilities, and shared happiness among its members.
Community is a social feature and a humanist conception that lies in the very center of democracy’s realization. The anti-boundary notion about community, embedded in the pragmatist thought, is a moral conception, as well as, a socio-political one, and seems the only applicable useful in present era. Pragmatic community begins with the self, that is constituted by social habits and is growing in conjunction with the social situations, that it is associated with.

In current crisis of individualism and upon re-building a societal community we must start from building a community in school, which gradually bring us closer to the ideal of democracy for our society and world, since ‘the local is the ultimate universal’. A school community aims at the humane education of responsible individuals.


Katerina K. Frantzi  (Greece)
Educator, Ph.D.
Faculty of Philosophy
Sofia University

Author holds a M.Ed. in Educational Policy-Planning-Administration and School Psychology-Counceling, University of Patras; Special Course Certificate in Psychology of Education, Institute of Education, University of London; B.Ed. in Primary Education, University of Patras.

  • Pragmatic Community
  • School Community
  • Crisis of Individualism
Person as Subject
  • John Dewey

(Virtual Presentation, English)