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Paulo Freire

May 12, 2009

Here is the late Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, discussing Karl Marx. Freire is one of the key figures, some would say the founder, of critical pedagogy (teaching as emancipation). I incorporate Freire’s critical pedagogy into my emancipatory constructionist theory and believe that it can work as one of the groundings of Autistic liberation.

In my personal narrative, I wrote the following:

The objective of such a struggle should be the attainment of what Paulo Freire referred to, in Portugese, as conscientizacao (i.e., conscientization, critical consciousness, or consciousness raising), that is to say, an awareness of the social contradictions of domination and of the emancipatory strategies for subduing them. Indeed, from a Freirian standpoint, the collaborative character of the educational process is encompased by a model of critical pedagogy. As in Mahayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva becomes a preceptor to others, so the critical pedagogue imparts her conscientization to a tyrannized population. Approached in a thoughtful manner, praxis can become a normative framework for disability activism and self-advocacy.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Geoff Rutledge permalink
    May 14, 2009 1:23 pm

    Hi Dr. Foster,

    Very interesting post.

    I’m a physician and former faculty member at Harvard and Stanford Medical Schools. I discovered your blog while looking for the best health writers on the web. I reviewed your posts, and think your writing would be a great addition to the Autism and Autism Spectrum Community on Wellsphere, a top 5 health website that has nearly 5 million visitors monthly. If you would like to learn more about how you can join our Health Blogger Network, republish your blog posts and be featured on the Wellsphere platform, just drop me an email at


  2. May 14, 2009 4:13 pm

    Well at least the patron saint of builders and cream crackers has not been piddling in your pond yet, but it’s coming I suspect.

  3. May 16, 2009 1:44 am

    Most people on the spectrum I have met are right libertarians. I don’t know if my experiences are typical. However, if so, my own views are clearly an anomaly. I have been a Marxist, of one sort or another, since 1968.

  4. May 16, 2009 4:53 am

    Being on the spectrum in no way defines ones politics, I suspect that many other factors define that, but then you are the sociologist, so I shan’t lecture you about it.

    Being as I am a left libertarian, who has left Marxism behind as an incomplete metanarrative for our times, I nonetheless tend to meet a number of both hard and soft left ND’s.

    If anything characterises us in our political allegiances, I guess it would be our dogged defence of whatever we have ended up professing.

  5. May 16, 2009 4:19 pm

    No, it clearly does not define it. However, I can only say that I have met a disproportionate number of right libertarians in autistic-space.

    I agree with you on the metanarrative front. However, my approach is new critical theory. We ground critical social theory in postmodernism, social constructionism, critical pragmatism, poststructuralism, etc.; and critical social theory was itself neo-Marxist.

  6. May 16, 2009 4:24 pm

    Certainly Foucault, Deleuze and such, the trouble is that they are also infected with the Freudian virus 🙂

  7. May 18, 2009 3:42 am

    That is first-generation critical theory. The second generation has been exemplified by Habermas, and he is not psychoanalytic at all. The third generation (new critical theory) is grounded in postmodernism, social constructionism, poststructuralism, critical pragmatism, etc.

    What unites all the generations is not psychoanalysis. It is a focus on a dialectic of domination and emancipation.

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