Cultural Turn In Education: Perspective Model And The Realities Of Life


The article is devoted to the analysis of cultural education. The article reveals the features of cultural studies as a special sphere of scientific knowledge. Cultural turn in education is considered as a possibility of formation of skills of the XXI century. The stages of formation and development of cultural education in modern Russia are defined. The conclusion about perspective development ways of culturological education is made on the analysis basis. Russian science has established research practices of analysis of socio-cultural reality. Russian education has experience in implementing a culturological approach in both a broad and a narrowly specific sense. There is a need for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of social processes and the introduction of research results into educational practices, but cultural education is not among the priorities. Possible scenarios of a "cultural turn" in education are described as optimistic, realistic or pessimistic. The method of discursive analysis was chosen as a leading method of research that allows revealing the dependence of educational strategies and practices on the requirements of the industrial revolution 4.0. The methods of comparative analysis, systematization and classification were used to describe the actual practices of cultural education.

Keywords: Сultural studiescultural educationeducational strategieseducational practice


The analysis of social and cultural realities of the last decades has led to the need to search for new directions in education, motivated by the processes of the industrial revolution 4.0. The concept of industrial revolutions, established in the social Sciences in the second half of the twentieth century, based on changes in economic life (cycles described by N. Kondratiev, the concept of the industrial revolution of A.Toynbee), had a significant impact on the development of education, redefining its value and designating reference points for development.

If the first industrial revolution (industrial revolution of XVIII – XIX centuries) gave rise to the idea of accessible education – "education for all", and the second revolution (second half of XIX–beginning of XX century) emphasized the technological turn in education, drawing on research strategy, the third (1980-1990-ies), based on the introduction of computer technology, has become a new challenge to education, expanding opportunities for scientific communication and providing wide access to educational resources (online education).

Education in a new technological revolution is in a crisis situation in its original meaning (al. - Greek. κρίσις-solution; turning point) is a transitional state that reveals existing conflicts and imbalances and, at the same time, opens up prospects for positive qualitative changes.

The model of the fourth technological revolution described by Schwab (2016) (industrial/industrial revolution 4.0) defines the contours of a new reality: "unlimited possibilities of a society in which billions of people are connected by mobile devices, opening unprecedented horizons in the field of information processing and storage and access to knowledge"; a stunning combination of" emerging technological breakthroughs in a wide range of areas, including, for example, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of things (IOT), robotic cars, three-dimensional printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing ". (Schwab, p. 7) Technological innovations provide new requirements for education at all levels: the readiness to respond to challenges should lead to transformations of the nature of education and outline new horizons of education in the XXI century.

Problem Statement

The development of higher education in Russia is closely linked to the processes taking place in society. After 1917, a course was taken to ensure the accessibility of higher education. Researchers estimate that by the 1980s up to 30% of the country's population had higher education (Schedule of changes: 2012). The explosive growth of interest in higher education is fixed in the post-Soviet era, when an increasing number of people with higher education doubled, and the number of universities increasing from 514 in 1991 to 896 in 2015 (Gromov, Platonova, Semenov, & Pyrova, 2016, p. 4). The trend of the last few years, associated with a reduction in the number of universities and the closure of educational programs in popular specialties (law, Economics, etc.), motivated by ensuring the quality of higher education in terms of its mass: for 2014-2017, the number of universities and branches in Russia decreased from 2268 to 1171 (52%), including the number of public schools decreased from 567 to 484 (15%), non-state – with 371 to 178 (53%), branches from 1330 to 509 (62%) (Sadovnichy, 2019). However, the mechanical reduction of the number of educational institutions, rigid and bureaucratic in its essence scenarios of accreditation procedures are aimed at solving immediate problems, while there is an urgent need to identify strategies for the development of education, adequate to the future.

Dynamics of changes over the past quarter century testifies to the humanitarization of the content of education (1990s – early 2000s), which was reflected not only in the emphasis on humanitarian values, or in increasing the number of educational disciplines of the Humanities, but also in a sharp decline in the humanitarian component in recent years, motivated as it is believed, by decrease the demand for graduates in the labour market.

At the same time, according to Forbes, there is an "invasion" of humanitarians in the technology business, focused, as it would seem, on people with technical education: specialists with diplomas of psychologists, philosophers, philologists and marketers begin to "compete for high positions in technology corporations and start-UPS with engineers and mathematicians" (Borodina, 2019, p. 1). It is symptomatic that the demand for soft skills is adaptability, ability to communicate in different cultural contexts and creativity, provided by humanitarian training of a specialist, become a priority for employers when it comes to innovative sectors of the economy (according to a survey of Ranepa, 50% people among 2000 managers of medium and large companies in the country have a humanitarian education (Borodina, 2019). Moreover, today there is a need to supplement STEM-education (STEM-abbreviation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) with deployed humanitarian programs (Lewis, 2018).

In this regard, there is a need to analyse the experience of Russian primary and higher education in the context of the tasks implementation of humanitarian education. As an example, we consider cultural education because of its relatively short and extremely revealing history.

Research Questions

Conceptual understanding of the economic and technological processes taking place in the industrial and post – industrial society of the second half of the XX and early XXI centuries., was carried out in the works of John Kenneth Galbraith (Galbraith, 2008), developed in the studies of D. Bell on "post-industrial society" (Bell, 2004), Toffler (2004) on the "third wave", and Schwab (2016) analysing the industrial revolution 4.0. Researchers, turning to the economic life, could not fail to see that the radical changes in techniques and technologies are motivated by human activity, which, contrary to popular belief, not only is not a "product of the market", but acts as an active subject of action.

Analysis of human subjectivity, "driving forces" that determine the nature of its activities, conducted by philosophers (N. A. Berdyaev, S. N. Bulgakov, S. L. Frank, A. S. Akhiezer, A. A. Pelipenko, I. G. Yakovenko), psychologists (K. A. Abdulkhanova, A.V. Brushlinsky, S. L. Rubinstein) sociologists (M. Web er, V. A. Lukov, A. I. Kovalev) shows that the determining factor is culture as "a social phenomenon that allows to transfer to new generations the system of values, concepts of morality and ethics that inherent in Russian civilization, giving the opportunity to see, understand and appreciate the beauty, and creatively explore the outside world" ( as cited in Gromov et al., 2016, p. 4), largely determines the behavior, daily practices and value basis of both the individual and society as a whole.

The basis for understanding the role of education in the conditions of industrial and post-industrial modernization is the cultural-activity approach justified in the works Of L. S. Vygotsky, A. N. Leontiev, A. R. Luria and other domestic psychologists and teachers. In this context, education can be considered as a mechanism of realization of the forming a "person of culture" idea.

Institutionalization of cultural studies as a sphere of scientific knowledge, the scope of professional activity and the training course has been repeatedly considered by the researchers Astafyeva & Razlogov, (2010), Flier (2012), Shapinskaya (2010) and others, including our works (Murzina, 2018, 2015). Among the specialized spheres of cultural knowledge a special place is given to pedagogical cultural studies (Benin, 2011; Widt, 1999).

Purpose of the Study

Today, the approaches and directions of further development and improvement of cultural knowledge and education are systematized and summarized. The cultural education in a broad sense is the purposeful process of education and training, based on the translation and reproduction of cultural values created in the process of spiritual, intellectual, creative activity of people and meet the goals of self–realization of man and society; as an integral component of the system of humanitarian education at all stages of its implementation; and in a narrow sense it is the system of professional training (activity stream is "cultural studies").

The culturological approach in education is considered as realization in educational practice of the valuable bases providing formation of cultural identity on the basis of introduction to traditions (religious, ethno-cultural, national) and realization of cultural creative potential of the person.

The definition of pedagogical Culturology , proposed By V. L. Benin, reveals its specificity as a field of humanitarian knowledge, acting "as a methodology of socio-cultural reproduction, studying "General laws of the pedagogical process", aimed "at obtaining systematic knowledge about the forms and methods of translation of social experience" and developing "options for the organization of cultural and educational practice" (Benin, 2011, p. 74).

Research Methods

The method of discursive analysis was chosen as a leading method of research that allows revealing the dependence of educational strategies and practices on the requirements of the industrial revolution 4.0. The methods of comparative analysis, systematization and classification were used to describe the actual practices of cultural education.


The concept of "culturological turn" emphasizes the role of the value foundations of culture in ensuring the implementation of the principles of integration and integrity in education. We introduce this definition by analogy with the linguistic turn in the humanitarian studies of the last third of the XX century, associated with the rethinking of the concept and the role of language.

The culturological turn in education is caused by a number of contradictions that have not been resolved yet. There are such contradictions as: 1) strengthening of specialization of subject knowledge at the expense of students conception/formation of a complete picture of the world; 2) necessity to be based in the substantial plan on the values of national cultures formed in logic of historical development and aspiration to unification of educational practices; 3) necessity in formation of the personality capable to adapt to constantly changing conditions of existence, but not losing moral bases, and the educational programs which are narrowly directed on acquisition of technical knowledge and skills.

The ideas of the culturological approach go back to the principle of cultural similarity formulated in the XVIII century by A. Diesterweg, calling to account the level of culture and educational ideal which were historically formed by the society. Gradually, the culturological approach was approved as an integral part of educational practice, providing, first of all, the content side of social and humanitarian courses (history, social studies, world art culture). Combined with contextual approach, culturological approach performed as a basis for forming ideas about the world as integrity, allowed "related" subjects to see the common and to uncover consistent patterns of historical development.

The introduction of such disciplines as "World art culture", and later "Culturology" and also such similar elective courses as "Culture of everyday life", "Mass culture", "Media Culture", "Man in the world of culture", etc., first from secondary schools (1970-1980-ies), and then to universities (late 1980–early 1990-ies) was symptomatic. All of them were designed not only to broaden the horizons of students or to fill the ideological vacuum associated with the social transformations that took place in the Soviet and post – Soviet countries, but also to create conditions for the development of critical thinking-in the process of discussing ideological issues by students. It was a significant phenomenon in the domestic education: when on the basis of understanding the historical path of culture, through artistic and everyday practices, students (both students and schoolchildren) received the experience of self-knowledge and understanding of social problems.

In the same period, the scientific field of cultural studies that is a special sphere of scientific knowledge that comprehends the processes taking place in culture reveals the relationship of the past and the present in the context of the translation of the value system is defined. Culturology is a reflection not only on the past of culture, but also on the present, which implies a critical attitude to reality. Not didacticism and falsely understood edification, but the ability to "ask questions to life" made cultural studies attractive not only for teachers, but also for representatives of other humanitarian fields, philologists, historians, sociologists.

The unique experience of implementing the "cultural project" in Russian science and education still needs to be comprehended. We should note that for the first time there is a real possibility of interdisciplinary discourse in the Humanities, which can overcome the closed specialization and create the basis for a holistic understanding of social reality. The prospect of such a direction is obvious, because it is in line with modern trends to overcome the boundaries and create explanatory theories of the existence of an ever more complex world.

For education as a system in which the formation and development of human culture with a formed system of values and developed critical thinking, culturological approach has identified a new vector which is the implementation in practice of the idea of metasubject. And it is possible to conduct not only about metasubject results of training which according to the approved Federal state educational standards (further – FSES), provide mastering of skills of the XXI century (P. Griffin), but also the new educational strategy directed not on acquisition of sets of various quality information, and on understanding, awareness and reflection. However, these strategic reference points have not yet become decisive in the Russian General education and it is problematic to talk about their positive or negative implementation.

In higher education, this approach led to the mass opening of the direction of training in the field of pedagogy and socio-cultural sphere. Speciality "cultural Studies" appeared in pedagogical universities and classical universities. Differentiation of educational programs was associated with the field of future professional activity – the sphere of education or culture, while maintaining a common theoretical and cultural and historical-cultural core.

The effectiveness of the training of students enrolled in this speciality can be indirectly assessed by the responses given by graduates. So, the question «What gave you training at "Cultural Studies"?" graduates of the Ural state pedagogical University (training in the speciality, and then in the direction of training of bachelors and masters was conducted from 2000 to 2017, the total number of graduates-more than 150 people), even those who did not work in schools as teachers of world art culture, answered almost unanimously: horizon understanding of what is happening in the world and the ability to find a common language and cooperate with a variety of people.

With a high demand in the labour market of specialists with such skills, we can not say that the profession of «culturologist "was among the priorities (we do not know of any case when a recruiting Agency declared such vacancy as "culturologist"). This contradiction allowed, on the one hand, to focus our departments of universities on the applied aspect of the cultural preparation of teachers/Tutors world art and culture (art history), experts in the field of socio-cultural activity, Museum educators, etc. on the other hand, have led to the realization of the inclusion of a cultural component in the curricula of preparation of specialists of different profiles (technical, scientific, teaching), providing the formation of common cultural competence of the graduates.

If the period up to the 2010s can be defined as the implementation of the cultural component of education, the situation of the last decade, we cannot define otherwise as «reduction of humanitarian education." With the freedom of choice of educational models and courses declared by the learning standards, the practice of general and higher education indicates the refusal of educational institutions from cultural disciplines, a radical reduction or complete closure of the enrolment of students in the speciality of cultural orientation. And it is not someone's evil will, but the general trend which concludes in pragmatic attitude to education, based on a narrowly understood momentary result, based on the use of technology (either information and communication or social engineering), and introduced a criterion scale for assessing educational results. Since the ability to reflect the life-meaning foundations of man and society cannot be translated into quantitative indicators, and the value basis of the individual is still a qualitative characteristic, it is premature to talk about a cultural turn. And this is despite the fact that the priority of spiritual and moral development and formation of personality on the basis of familiarization with the values of culture is declared at various levels.

Thus, the present situation is as follows. Russian science has established research practices of analysis of socio-cultural reality. Russian education has experience in implementing a culturological approach in both a broad and a narrowly specific sense. There is a need for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of social processes and the introduction of research results into educational practices, but cultural education is not among the priorities.


Possible scenarios of a "cultural turn" in education can be described as optimistic, realistic or pessimistic.

Optimistic scenario : the idea of genuine cultural integration will prevail in education when the need for the development of the individual with a developed critical thinking, creative abilities and willingness to communicate with different people and cultures will be implemented, and cultural studies thus take its place "science middle-level", linking high philosophical matter with the practice of life, providing meaningful value to the existence of man, society and the state.

Realistic scenario : cultural studies will act (and already acts) theoretical foundation of socio-cultural projects, programs and practices aimed at the development of man and society.

Pessimistic scenario : cultural education will cease to exist as an independent phenomenon.

Each of these scenarios is possible today. However, with a pessimistic development of events, we risk losing a promising direction in education that can provide the ideological and value foundations of the individual.


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Murzina, I., & Zhukova, Y. (2020). Cultural Turn In Education: Perspective Model And The Realities Of Life. In I. Murzina (Ed.), Humanistic Practice in Education in a Postmodern Age, vol 93. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 735-742). European Publisher.