Monday, June 2, 2008

Social Justice Dispositions and Charles E. Lindblom's Concept of Preceptoral Authority System

In his book Politics and Markets: The World's Political-Economic Systems* political scientist Charles E. Lindblom describes three kinds of authority: market, state and preceptoral. Market and state reflect the usual definitions but preceptoral is a concept that seems to have been Lindblom's own. In William Ouchi's Theory Z**, published about four years after Lindblom's book, the idea that clan or organizational culture can supplement market and bureaucratic control methods seems to parallel this idea. The idea of preceptoral control is that educational indoctrination can substitute for state coercion or economic incentives as a method of control. This idea very closely fits the concept of "social justice disposition" that the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has advocated:

"Persuasion or "education" is aimed first--but perhaps only transitionally--at a transformation of personality, at the creation of the 'new man' as he is often referred to in communist discourse. Mao speaks of the need to 'remold people to their very souls.' 'We must fight 'self.' The 'fundamental task,' Castro declares, is the formation of the new man, a man with a profound consciousness of his role in society and of his duties and social responsibilities.

"For the USSR, Cuba and China alike, the template for the new man has been fashioned from socialist thought, George Orwell's 1984, and Victorian England. Selflessness, cooperation, egalitarianism and service to society mix as themes with duty, hard work, self discipline, patriotism and moral conservatism in dress, the arts and sexual behavior. Two features of the new personality are indispensable. 'Education' tries to create men who will autonomously serve collective interests, that is, who will do on their own initiative what in other societies they must be commanded or induced to do. It must also create men who will voluntarily respond to state and party when either asks for specific performance.

"To explain, justify and win agreement on all tasks takes too much time; such persuasive efforts have to be reserved for inducing personality transformation and for motivating major tasks. Hence, citizens must be persuaded simply to accept the authority of their leaders on the assignment of most tasks. How then does such a system differ on this point from a conventional authority system? It differs in that the new man will ordinarily need no external direction. When he does, authority is a residual tool to be used only in cases in which persuasion is not feasible because too costly in time and effort. In addition, such authority as is needed rests on its prior establishment by persuasion alone. If these requirements seem difficult to satisfy, they help explain why a preceptoral system remains largely aspiration rather than fact."

Not if the educational establishment can help it.

*Charles E. Lindblom, Politics and Markets: The World's Political-Economic Systems. New York: Basic Books, 1977, p. 56.

**William Ouchi, Theory Z, 1981

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