The pedagogical approach to the research of consumerism proposed in this dissertation is based on the critical theory of society of the Frankfurt School. In the dissertation, consumerism is analyzed using the critical theory of society as a phenomenon that turns active subjects of the educational process into passive objects in the form of consumers of services.
In the humanistic approach of contemporary pedagogical science, an individual must be a subject of the educational process, and the pedagogical approach must never be determined by market postulates, which is emphasized in this dissertation. Consumerism is analyzed with a pedagogical approach in this dissertation as a phenomenon of direct manipulation of needs and preferences of children and young people. The dominant theoretical framework of this dissertation is the critical theory of society of the Frankfurt School, while the research methodology is based on the analysis of the historical and current state of educational discourse, qualitative analysis of interdisciplinary literature from several fields: pedagogy, philosophy, economics, sociology, anthropology, psychology and history. The methodological point of departure is hermeneutic interpretation, as the emphasis is placed on theoretical discussion, criticism and analysis of consumerism, consumer society and consumer values, and their implications for contemporary pedagogical science. The actuality of the issue of consumerism in pedagogical science stems from the fact that the consumerist culture manifests
itself in all spheres of education. Consumerism is on the margins of research in pedagogical science, and it was this fact, along with the lack of relevant pedagogical literature, that was the key motivating factor for the proposal of a new pedagogical approach to the research of consumerism that this dissertation brings. Recent international scientific literature points to the exceptional topicality of research into the pedagogical and educational implications of consumerism, and the dissertation emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach because it is possible to construct a new pedagogical theory for studying phenomenon of consumerism by analyzing and synthesizing the main theses of relevant authors from the fields of philosophy, anthropology, economics, psychology, history and sociology.
Using the theoretical framework of the critical theory of society of the Frankfurt School, the research task of recognizing the influence of the consumerist doctrine on the humanistic paradigm in the process of education was achieved, which is a prerequisite for developing a pedagogical approach to the study of consumerism. Emphasizing the importance of critical thinking development was systematically promoted through the dissertation, because in addition to always asking questions about how something is, it is also necessary to question why it is the way it is in order to achieve the critical, and also humanistic purpose of the educational act. Critical thinking from the perspective of critical pedagogy further empowers the individual and directs him to analyze, evaluate and synthesize facts, which helps him develop a deeper understanding of the world. In a world of constant changes where information is abundant, the skill of critical thinking is crucial in the process of emancipation of an individual. Critical thinking involves questioning the dominant cultural narratives and assumptions on which these structures are based on and challenging them through critical thinking and analysis. We have seen that for critical pedagogy it is necessary to continuously question the dominant value systems, respecting the individual needs of the individual in the process of education. Such an approach requires examining emotions, desires and needs of an individual as significant components of the educational experience in critical pedagogy. As they are closely related to issues of power, oppression and social justice, by recognizing and solving these needs and desires of an individual, critical pedagogy assumes the possibility of creating a more equal and just society.
Examining the contemporary discourse of critical pedagogy, we pointed out, through content analysis, how questions of power and ideology play central role in shaping educational policies and practices. Critical pedagogy warns that education can be used as a tool to promote social justice and liberation, but only if individuals are critically aware, and aware of the need to challenge the dominant ideology and power structures that shape educational practices.
Education for critical consciousness is crucial for establishing fairer and more equal educational system and consequently society. Critical pedagogy continuously examines ideologies in order to understand and describe different and often sophisticated ways in which different positions of power operate to shape educational policies. It was shown through this dissertation how discussions about curriculum, pedagogical practice and teacher education are essential in the context of critical pedagogy because they are central to the goal of promoting social justice and equality through education. Critical pedagogy is the one that emphasizes the need for education to be transformative, empowering and liberating, and this cannot be achieved without a critical reflection of pedagogical practice and the role of the teacher in the educational process. Critical pedagogy recognizes that education is not a neutral or objective endeavor, but it is shaped by power dynamics, cultural values, and social structures. Therefore, pedagogical practices must be examined and criticized to ensure that they do not maintain or reproduce oppressive ideologies and systems of inequality. For critical pedagogy, the issue of education of educational experts is crucial for the development of critical pedagogical practice.
They must be equipped with knowledge, skills and affinities necessary for creating learning environment that promotes critical thinking, social justice and equality. This requires constant professional development, critical reflection and commitment to social change. All discussions of curriculum and pedagogical practice are important in the context of critical pedagogy because they are crucial for creating transformative and empowering educational experiences that promote social justice and equality.
While examining issues of critical thinking, values and needs of an individual, power and ideology, and the position of hermeneutics and qualitative methodology, we have seen how critical pedagogy, in the spirit of critical social theory, deals with issues of power and justice, the ways in which economics and politics affect education, the social origin issue, ideologies, but also numerous others in order to give a systematic explanation of the process of education, and through practice to cause a transformative change in an individual. This is where we have recognized the potential for the development of the critical pedagogy of consumerism, as a pedagogical approach based on the critical theory of society that deals with qualitative research of all aspects of consumerism within the educational process. Critical pedagogy continuously develops and includes new theoretical insights and social circumstances and conditions in its research. In this context, critical pedagogy is in constant search of new and interconnected ways of oppressing and understanding the power that shapes everyday life and human experience. We have also seen, in the critical theory of society, that due to its normative requirement for criticality, it is always open to development and change, but that it also allows the discourse of disagreement and criticality of itself in order to continuously develop.
Ultimately, we have brought the task of systemizing specific consumerist processes of consumer society and culture into modern pedagogical science by proposing a new pedagogical approach to consumerism research. The pedagogical approach derived from the critical theory of society is not only critical of consumerism, but it also assumes that practical action can improve the condition and transform educational theory and practice. The suggested pedagogical approach to the study of consumerism, which is based on the critical theory of society, is idiographic and examines the sense, the importance and the significance of the consumerist doctrine in education, using speculative and deductive approach. This approach meets the condition of setting a pedagogical point of view because it focuses on an individual and seeks understanding, not just an explanation of the phenomenon. We have identified how the need for pedagogical approach to the research of consumerism comes from the fact that pedagogy has its own subject, perspective, and point of view that it investigates, and therefore must develop its own discourse for researching consumerism. The pedagogical approach to the research of consumerism was based on the autonomous field of pedagogical science, although due to the breadth of the phenomenon of consumerism, the approach is methodologically interdisciplinary in its nature. However, we claim that the pedagogical approach must take a clear pedagogical perspective and point of view when examining the consequences consumerism has on education. In the theoretical part of the pedagogical approach, a description, interpretation, and understanding of the ways in which the phenomenon of consumerism encompasses education as subject matter of pedagogical science is introduced.
The practical part of the pedagogical approach describes different methodical procedures by which the application of critical pedagogy as a practice can act in an emancipatory and transformative manner for the purpose of fulfilling the Pedagogical goal of education. We based our pedagogical approach on the descriptive and normative understanding of pedagogical science. We claim that the pedagogical research of consumerism therefore tries not only to describe reality, but also to provide guidelines for its improvement. We must look at education as a process that is focused on the development of a complete personality, and emphasizes individual development and emancipation of the individual. The proposed pedagogical approach to research of consumerism provides an autonomous pedagogical and theoretical framework for the research of various aspects of the impact of consumerism on the process of education. We have shown that educational and pedagogical aspects of consumerism must critically question, at its core, the antipedagogic, consumerist idea that education should be treated as goods and services that are consumed by individuals on the market. Such consumerist and economic view of education processes emphasizes individual growth of an individual through competition with others, and views educational system as a product that should be adapted to the needs and preferences of individual consumers. The consumerist influence on educational policies is clearly reflected in the focus on short-term and limited learning outcomes that an individual should acquire through the educational process. The economic view does not treat education as a public good, but as a commodity that is offered on the market according to the principles of supply and demand.
We have also proposed specific research areas that should become the subject of a pedagogical approach to the research of consumerism, and which we consider a direct consequence of the consumerist doctrine, such as the issue of child consumers, market fundamentalism or the education industry. In order for it to be a comprehensive pedagogical approach, it must also analyze current processes such as privatization, commercialization and marketization of education, and corporatization of educational institutions. In the context of wider social reality, the pedagogical approach must unquestionably investigate the problem of alienation and reification of education, as well as the commodification of knowledge and education. With this in mind, the specific scientific contribution of the dissertation was made, in sense of establishing a separate area within pedagogical science that will analyze consumer culture, consumer society, and the phenomenon of consumerism using a pedagogical approach.
Pedagogical approach, besides the theoretical examination of the implications of consumerism on education, assumes the existence of a practice that can transform all the negative implications of the mentioned phenomenon and thus achieve the fulfillment of the pedagogically based goal of education. Therefore, we have proposed critical pedagogy as a form of practice that requires the creation and usage of pedagogical tools that encourage and develop critical thinking, social justice and solidarity, and it imposes itself as a tool of pedagogical science for the transformation of consumerism. Critical pedagogy is a field of pedagogical science that provides tools for employees in the educational system to encourage individuals to develop critical thinking. We believe that the most important step in the practice of critical pedagogy is to provide high-quality and meaningful learning experiences that will enable individuals to understand and interpret their own everyday life in a global consumer society. The consumer paradigm imposes contents in the educational system that are not pedagogically based and does not help the development of an individual, rather aims at the external maintenance of the existing consumerism.
The last task was achieved by organizing the issue of consumer philosophy of consumption within the humanistic paradigm of education with the aim of identifying the need for new pedagogical and educational research in future. The proposed pedagogical approach to the research of consumerism in pedagogical science has a special benefit in several ways. It can be used for interpretation and explanation of the phenomenon of consumerism, but it can also be used to understand the patterns of consumer behavior of children and young people. Furthermore, the pedagogical approach can be used to study aspects of the functioning of educational institutions that increasingly apply the logic of market functioning in their work. Through a historical analysis and an interdisciplinary approach to the development of consumerism, the doctoral dissertation explains, interprets and classifies different understandings of consumerism in the social and humanistic sciences. Therefore, the dissertation is more focused on identifying the pedagogically undesirable educational influence of consumerism. Through all the chapters, the dissertation interprets, meaningfully frames and connects the influences of different theories within the analyzed sources of literature with the aim of building a pedagogical approach to consumerism research. Throughout the dissertation, the phenomenon of consumerism is placed within the context of its sociohistorical development, and it is observed especially from the perspective of contemporary pedagogical science. With its foundation in the critical theory of society, the pedagogical approach proposed in this dissertation does not strive for finality, but it is a framework and a starting point for further, urgently needed research in pedagogical science as well as educational practice.