International Journal of Art & Design Education

The Modular Condition: Technocracy, Art and Cultural Politics

Volume 15.2   1996



Modularisation can be examined as a process of organisational change informed by particular discursive structures and conceptual problematics, both of which are related to questions of cultural politics and of power. Drawing on the work of Habermas and other critical social theorists, the paper argues that modularisation is dominantly informed by a 'technocratic rationalist' mode of thought, derived from the logics of science, technology and industry rather than contemporary art or other cultural practices. This is especially evident in the way modularisation prioritises a quantitative systems logic, relegates and de-realises educational content, and, contrary to its own rhetoric of diversity and choice, exercises a universalising drive through strategies of assimilation and extension. Crucially for art education, this identification suggests an intensified contradiction between the prevalent discourses and values of contemporary art, and those of educational organisation. The paper explores some of the implications of this contradiction for art education in the 1990s.