Category Archives: Politics

Operaismo and Educational Inquiry

The ideas about the relationship between autonomist Marxism and educational work and inquiry that I outlined in my entry in the Springer Encyclopaedia of Teacher Education (see post here) are further developed in an article just published in the journal Postdigital Science and Education.

Here’s the abstract of this more detailed piece, which gives particular attention to the work of Romano Alquati and the relevance of his model of a politicised ‘co-research’ (conricerca) to the study of contemporary work environments – including educational settings.

There are parallels between the post-Marxist traditions of operaismo (workerism) and autonomism and emerging ideas about the ‘postdigital’. Operaist analyses and approaches, and particularly the work of Romano Alquati on co-research, have the potential to contribute to discourses as to what might be involved in postdigital inquiry in educational settings, and to better understand of critical data literacies. For such educational inquiry to evolve into a comprehensive strategy of ‘co-research’, it is argued that what is needed are models of teacher inquiry with the potential to challenge dominant rhetorics, to support emancipatory research and development, and to establish the postdigital as a counter-hegemonic educational programme.

Citation: Carmichael, P. (2019) Postdigital Possibilities: Operaismo, Co-research, and Educational Inquiry. Postdigital Science and Education. doi: 10.1007/s42438-019-00089-0

The article is currently published ‘Online First’ pending inclusion in a forthcoming issue of the journal and is available open access so is available to download and read here:

Autonomism, Operaismo and Education

My contribution to the Springer Encyclopedia of Teacher Education, ‘Autonomism and Teacher Education’, has now been published. I discuss the potential for autonomist Marxist theory to be applied to teacher education. Autonomist Marxist (or simply ‘autonomism’) differs from other traditions in Marxism in that it emphasizes the potential of working people to organize and effect change through self-directed action, without the leadership of a political party, leadership cadre, or trades union. 

As well as highlighting some of the useful theoretical framings that autonomism provides in the context of education, my contribution covers the earlier theory and practice of operaismo (‘workerism’) which emerged in Italy in the 1960’s. In particular, I discuss the central role of ‘workers’ inquiry’ – inquiries conducted by workers as part of a radical praxis. Workers’ inquiries have often been responses to changing working conditions and in particular the increasing role of technology and automation: issues that are clearly relevant to the changing experience of teachers today.

I also discuss the work of Romano Alquati, whose model of ‘co-research’ (conricerca) has similarities with the action research familiar to many teachers. Co-research, however, is much more oriented to the radical transformation of workplaces and society more widely, and positions teachers as activists: so it goes much further than teacher inquiry which is simply oriented towards personal development or improvement of learning outcomes.

The Encyclopedia will be published in paper form but is already available online, so you can read it here:

The World Transformed

I volunteered at The World Transformed festival in Liverpool.  This has rapidly developed into one of the most exciting events in the UK political calendar, and has put ‘political education’ back on the agenda.  About 6000 people attended over the four days of the festival.

What I like so much about TWT is not just the range of speakers and topics that are covered, but the way in which it involves different kinds of political discussion, deliberation, and agenda-setting – alongside cultural events and social activities.