Social Movements, Civil Society, and Radical Adult Education

by John D. Holst


Argues that a classical Marxist political economic analysis of globalization that sees globalization as merely a new stage in the long expansion of capitalist relations will confront capitalism and demonstrate how Gramsci provides a theory and practice for the creation of working-class hegemony through people's power.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Social Movements, Civil Society, and Radical Adult Education

November 2001


Pages 176
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Current Events and Issues/Education

The idea that radical adult educators should build civil society through social movements is the dominant paradigm within the adult education left today. This work is the first book-length treatment on the subject of social movement and civil society theory within radical adult education.

The author covers the history and current status of social movement and civil society theory within radical adult education and the left generally. This historical survey reveals how the current dichotomy between radical pluralist and socialist perspectives that prevails within radical adult education is a result of debates over globalization, postmodernism, and the left's understanding of the demise of most socialist states. The book concludes with a reconceptualization of Gramsci's use of civil society and its implications for contemporary radical adult education theory and practice, arguing, unlike others, that Gramsci did not advocate building civil society but proletarian hegemony.

Table of Contents

Series Foreword by Henry A. GirouxForeword by Peter McLarenPrefaceContextualizing the Contemporary Interest in Social Movements and Civil Society in Radical Adult Education Theory and PracticeThe Sociology and Politics of Social MovementsCivil Society within the Marxist Tradition and BeyondAdult Education, Social Movements and Civil SocietyGramsci's Concept of Civil Society Revisited: Implications for a Reconceptualization of Radical Adult Education Theory and PracticeReferencesIndex



This book is not easy reading, but is valuable. It is spirited challenge to soft critiques of global capitalism among many educators. The author presents less than a full account of positions with which he disagrees, and some readers may want to balance Holst with radical pluralists' and socialists' own accounts of social movement theory. The bibliographic entries on social movements and civil society and adult education's treatment of these subjects are valuable, and overall this is a well-written and timely book.—Noel Keough, University of Calgary, Canada

[A] unique and provocative perspective on education in America....well researched and carefully argued.—Controversia


John Holst helps bring the historical materialist tradition back into the reckoning in the literature on radical and transformative adult education. This inspiring book is a must for anyone interested in the area of adult education for social transformation as part of a larger and more comprehensive struggle for economic redistribution and social justice.—Peter Mayo^LAssociate Professor, University of Malta

Here is a bold and incisive argument, calling adult educators to account....Joining scholars like Allman and Youngman, Holst restores a robust vision of revolutionary praxis in a desperate world.—Tara J. Fenwick^LAssociate Professor, University of Alberta

Those who espouse to be 'radical' adult educators need to get themselves a copy of John Holst's book. In a brave and unambiguous approach to civil society and social movements, Holst provides a compelling and lucid case for reasserting a Marxist socialist agenda for adult education.—Mark Murphy, Ph.D.^LLecturer in Education, University of Stirling, Scotland

Theoretically grounded in Marx, Gramsci, and Lenin, this is the book we've waited for and the book we need. The clear articulation of the relationship between social movements and civil society makes Holst's work absolutely essential reading for radical/critical educators.—Paula Allman^Lauthor, ^IRevolutionary Social Transformation^R

This uncompromising, deeply theoretical, understandable polemic is needed for educators in classrooms, in unions, on the soap box or the internet.—Nelson Peery^LLeague of Revolutionaries for a New America

Holst blends theoretical sophistication with activist momentum to argue for the enduring relevance of a socialist vision of adult education.—Stephen Brookfield^LDistinguished Professor, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota

A brilliant contribution to the radical tradition of adult education. Holst convincingly demonstrates how progressive adult education scholars have used the writings of Marx, Gramsci, and Freire in selective and problematic ways. The author provides a thoughtful and inspirational way of returning to the fundamental ideas of these thinkers.—Kjell Rubenson, Ph.D.^LProfessor of Adult Education, University of British Columbia

Other Titles of Interest

Theory and Resistance in Education cover imageCritical Education Against Global Capitalism cover imageNietzsche's Legacy for Education cover image
Political Relationship and Narrative Knowledge cover imageEducation, Literacy, and Humanization cover imageRituals, Ceremonies, and Cultural Meaning in Higher Education cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips