Research Areas

Construction of the "State Teaching" and Educational Professions


It is in the same movement that many Western states proclaim democracy and put in place from the 19th and throughout the 20th century public education, soon decreed free, secular and mandatory. These principles favor, not without contradictions, the progressive generalization of literacy and schooling. Over the decades, we are witnessing the construction, consolidation and worldwide diffusion of the "school form", transforming the child/youth into a learner/ student.

Because it requires both the exercise of enlightened citizenship and adherence to new forms of administration of public affairs, democracy is the teacher of the people. The State becomes a teacher and an educator: education, the right of the new citizen, is at the same time a condition of freedom and an instrument of conformity.

Concerned with the performance of education systems, the teaching state is strengthening the training of teachers, raised to the status of civil servants, while education professionals are regrouping in associations, aspiring to be recognized as legitimate interlocutors in pedagogical matters.


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These mutations are queried from multiple inputs:

1. The cultural, political, religious, social, economic and educational challenges of these forms of public education, their conditions of emergence, the obstacles encountered by the expansion of schooling.

2. The controversial reconfigurations of the "school form" during Modernity and the controversial debates today on the role of the State in the formation of the young populations.

3. The emergence then the restructuring of teacher training institutions. In particular, these restructurings are aimed at professionalizing teachers through a transformation of their training programs and their knowledge of reference.

4. The modalities of reflexive and critical management of the objectives of the educating State within teaching bodies becoming actors of the school policy, their modes of engagement, of autonomisation and emancipation (associations, syndicalism, educational activism ) within state institutions.



  • Hofstetter, R. (1998). Les lumières de la démocratie. Histoire de l'école primaire publique à Genève au 19e siècle. Berne: Lang/Exploration. Descriptif et commande de l'ouvrage
  • Hofstetter, R., Magnin, C., Criblez, L. & Jenzer, C. (Ed.). (1999). Une école pour la démocratie. Naissance et développement de l'école primaire publique en Suisse au 19siècle. Berne: Lang/Exploration. Descriptif et commande de l'ouvrage