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POLICY PRIORITIES - according to Ruth Levitas

Moving on

The Career-learning Café

Few people have mapped government career-related policies with greater care than Ruth Levitas. She helps in clarifying priorities, not just for careers work but for Connexions and education-for-citizenship.

She finds three driving ideas:

1. Being out-of-work usually means being poor. We might, then, think of re-organising resource allocation to give the most troubled and troublesome a chance to re-claim their stake as citizens and to get themselves re-established as workers. This would be part of what Ruth calls ‘RED – the re-distributionist discourse’.
We could concentrate on the problem of the moral underclass. We have allowed too many people to fall out-of-touch with mainstream values. This loss of discipline sets off a downward spiral, causing people to exclude themselves and to become harmful to us all. This, says Ruth, with no hint of any intended irony, is ‘MUD – the moral-underclass discourse’.
And let’s not forget that being in work is the way in which most of us feel that we belong to society. Employment is, then, crucial for social integration, So, skilling people for participation in the working world is their route out of ‘exclusion’, and our route to a socially and economically viable community. Greet ‘SID – the social-integrationist discourse’.

Big priorities here. But, before we get over-excited, take another look and notice that the three discourses stumble from one headline-phrase to another - ‘tax!’, ‘immorality!’ and ‘social and economic decline!’.

Headlines are a poor guide to thinking; and RED, MUD and SID are not coherent, they do not examine useful ideas, they merely assert constituency interests. The result, as Ruth Levitas carefully shows, is ill-informed confusion. It won’t do for education. We need a stronger grip on how things actually work.

One of the greater dangers is that, before we take a grip on them, such phrases become a conventional part of the system - conventional assumptions not lightly to be questioned. The resulting state-of-mind is ‘high system orientation’ – loyal to the convention. But there is also ‘low system-orientation’ – which is an entirely different kind of professional loyalty.

The Café is going to develop a low-system oriented grip on Ruth Levitas’s valuable work. Her work has been extended to form part of the underpinning for a new café interactive activity - with serious implication the reform of careers work.

Game for Career #2
pilot version now on-line

underpinned by...

Getting Clear on Careers-work Priorities
shortly to be available

come back to


















what is high and low system orientation?

an early account of the case for reform in careers work

more on how the Café will move on

Ruth Levitas's book is...

The Inclusive Society – Social Exclusion and New Labour. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan (1998)

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