Education as Transformation Creating Cultural Identity and Civil Society

Presented by Professor John Ozolins


Civil Society serves as important bulwark against both the State and the market economy. It exists in tension with both since civil society constitutes the associational and social life of communities and so can provide an independent critical evaluation of the values that the State and the market support in their policies. Even in totalitarian societies, civil society can be a source of support for oppressed people. Recent events across the globe attest to the power of civil social movements and of civil society. Cultural Identity forms an important bridge between the State and civil society, since individual identity is formed in families, in neighbourhoods, in communities and through associations, that is, in particular cultural traditions. Civil society expresses these cultural traditions and so individual cultural identity is shaped by civil society. In turn, the State itself is founded on cultural identity or identities that are part of national identity.

This paper examines the connection between cultural identity and civil society, arguing that education has an important transformative role in the preservation and transmission of cultural traditions. It has, therefore, an important role in the creation of individuals' cultural identity, which in turn, transforms the cultural identity of civil society and of the State.


Professor John Ozolins is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophy and Theology at the Australian Catholic University. His teaching and research interests include metaphysics and epistemology, applied ethics and bioethics, the philosophy of education, the relationship between religion and science, and issues concerning the mind and personal identity. He has published over 100 articles, book chapters and refereed journal articles in a variety of areas.