Erik Wright on Envisioning Real Utopias

by Harry on March 4, 2007

Erik Olin Wright’s manuscript-in-progress, Envisioning Real Utopias is on the web. Erik has been working on the Real Utopias Project for about 15 years, cajoling and encouraging left-ish social scientists to think daringly but rigorously about reform ideas that may not be practicable in the short term, but, if enacted, would forward an egalitarian agenda, and would be internally workable. (I’ve been mentioning it a lot recently, in case you hadn’t noticed). I asked Erik to provide a brief intro for your edification, which is below the fold. He’s keen to get (useful) comments at this stage, so please either email him. Or, if your comments concern chapters one, two, or three, comment here (I’ll put up another post for discussion of subsequent chapters next week). If you have the patience to wait till publication to read the whole thing, this paper nicely motivates, and summarises some of, the project.

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Why Lotteries Shouldn’t Harm the Poor

by Harry on March 4, 2007

Two sensible pieces, one by the BBC’s peerless Mike Baker (can we have an education journalist like him in the US, please?) and another by Fiona Millar on school places lottery flap. A very peculiar piece at the BBC site reporting on research that, as far as I can tell from the report, has nothing to do with the lotteries. The researcher is quoted as saying that:

Our research suggests that lotteries of over-subscribed school places would produce the worst of both worlds – greater educational polarisation and longer, more environmentally damaging car journeys to distant schools by middle-class parents. She said it was interesting that Labour-controlled Brighton was proposing it on the grounds of fairness and equality of opportunity, when this research suggested it might have exactly the opposite result.

I gather that this claim has gotten some play in the debate, so it’s worth refuting it. (As a bonus for my New Labour friends I include a criticism of David Willetts below the fold).

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by Kieran Healy on March 4, 2007

38°13’36.38″N, 112°17’56.59″W.

_Update_: OK, sorry, so there are lots more of these.