Introduction: Knowledge, Identity and Power — Education Movements in the Global South

  • Ashok Swain


Education is knowledge and knowledge is the source of power. In a democratic structure, people are controlled less by security forces or economic strength than by dissemination of “master discourse”. Foucault (1971) argues that “no power can be exercised without the extraction, appropriation, distribution or retention of knowledge”. “Power is not inherently good or bad. It is how power is exercised, by what means and to what ends” (Lipschutz 2003). As the primary source of knowledge, education can be the basis of power in various ways. It is arguably the most important source of human capital. It helps to develop critical competencies, skills and disposition. Moreover, education broadens horizons and develops assurance and self-determination that enables a person to interact and compete with others. It brings about discovery of other cultures, lands, languages and peoples, which in turn promotes understanding of different viewpoints and facilitates coordination. It encourages acceptance and tolerance. Education is lasting and helps people lead responsible civic lives.


Civil Society Social Movement Education Policy Language Policy Resource Mobilization 
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© UNRISD 2005

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  • Ashok Swain

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