Paths in Utopia: School as Holding Environment for the Dialogical Self

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This paper explores the genealogy of a form of collective intelligence that cultivates the democratic social character, understood as a style of subjectivity that is implicitly dedicated to the experience of living both individually and collectively in what H. Hermans has termed the “challenge” zone of “the dynamic interplay of I-positions within the self,” and practiced in negotiating the boundary-crossings implicit in the “increasing heterogeneity of I-positions” that results from an ever-increasing “interface of globalization and localization” that is the post-modern situation. The historical emergence of a democratic psychoclass is linked with an emergent form of culturally mediated subjectivity that acts to “recover the continuum between our ‘first nature’ and our ‘second nature’, our natural world and our social world, our biological being and our rationality, leading to a society organized under a new reality principle. I then explore a form of education that has been present in latent or manifest form as long as democratic values and aspirations have been present in the Western social and political imaginary, and argue that it is intimately linked to the same impulse that this new reality principle represents. Its evolutionary potential is fed by what psychohistorian L. DeMause identified as a dialectical advance in childrearing “modes,” whereby adults enter into dialogue with childhood forms of intentionality, resulting in the reinvention of school as an adult–child collective that acts as a facilitating environment for the emergence of a psychoclass dedicated to dialogue, democracy and ongoing personal and social reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-604
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Constructivist Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Dialogical self theory
  • democracy
  • education
  • philosophy of childhood
  • psychohistory


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