Friday, June 22, 2018

Can we live together?

Undergrad societies are not anymore progressively developing into one vast global society; rather, the all the political, regional, and social elements that we once called social orders or nations are divorcing in front of our eyes in the wake of ethnic, political, and religious conflicts. The outcome is that we live respectively just to the degree that we make similar signals and utilize similar norms and values. But we cannot converge or speak with each other if we are not taught the same language, we cannot conform if we are not the same color. Therefore, social institutions may be retooled to demolish the improvement of the individual subject and correspondence amongst subjects, and by drawing out what these new social foundations may affect the social relations between different group and in education system, creating a room for prejudice and discrimination.
 However, to achieve and to form meaningful social and political institutions, to create an acceptance and to reduce the gap between different groups, we have to empower an active self or the “subject”. Thus, this is what Touraine emphasizes in his book “can we live together” he mentions the importance of the school of subject with reflection on education and textbooks. Touraine emphasis that education must enhance the freedom of the personal Subject and it develops great emphasis on diversity, communication, and liberation rather than nationalism context, wrecking individualism and national culture.
Textbooks is a major aspect in constructing the subject, it plays an important role in shaping the identity of the individual and his social roles in the society. It represents a resource for both teachers as a course designers and learners as individuals who are acquiring their knowledge and background. It shapes the individual’s conscious in order to recognize himself within the in group and within the out group. It works on the notion of us and them, and who is the “others”, which can later develop a form of discrimination and prejudice, leading to widen the gap within different societies.
However, theories of prejudice and discrimination are paramount element in order to understand the importance of textbooks in creating an atmosphere of where it reduces or increases the subject. One of the relevant theories to this topic is the Socialization and Social Learning Theory, it focuses on social norms that have been taught for the individual at his early years, it argues that People are socialized and trained to behave that way, that even discriminatory act is taught. Social learning theory, looks at the individual learning process, the formation of self, and the influence of society in socializing individuals. the formation of one’s identity is a response to social stimuli. This theory postulates that an individual’s identity is not the product of the unconscious (such as the belief of psychoanalytic theorists), but instead is the result of modeling oneself in response to the expectations of others.
Behaviors and attitudes develop in response to reinforcement and encouragement from the people around us. Social learning theorists acknowledge that childhood experience is important, they also believe that the identity people acquire is formed more by the behaviors and attitudes of others. Hence, Social identity theory is applicable, according to SIT, people tend to classify themselves and others into various social categories, such as organizational membership, religious affiliation, gender, and age cohort.
Social identification stems from the categorization of individuals, the distinctiveness and prestige of the group, the salience of outgroups, and the factors that traditionally are associated with group formation. Social identification leads to activities that are congruent with the identity, support for institutions that embody the identity, stereotypical perceptions of self and others. Social identification, therefore, is the perception of oneness with or belongingness to some human aggregate. Social identification provides a partial answer to the question, who am I?
 Therefore, this is applicable to the case of educational textbooks, since it provides a set of visuals, activities, readings, and ideologies that affect the individual’s identity and recognition. Therefore, I will focus on the issue of textbooks formation in Egypt. I will talk about Egyptian educational textbooks produced by the ministry of education in Egypt. I analyzed different textbooks from different grades, focusing on main social concepts such as: sexism, nationalism. What I found was an answer to the question: can we live together? and the answer is: NOT YET.

Therefore, and by analyzing the 2nd primary Arabic textbook, I concentrated-on gender as a leading explanatory approach to the inequality between women and men in the public sphere and in the social norms and values. While the term ‘‘sex’’ is a reference to the biological and physical differences between males and females, Gender refers to the socially constructed differences between women and men. Egypt ranks low in gender equity compared to other countries worldwide. The 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, which measures disparities between men and women across countries, ranks Egypt at 136 out of 145 countries worldwide. Gender Index 2014, which measures legislation, practices, and attitudes that restrict women’s rights and opportunities, classifies Egypt to be among the countries ‘very high’ in gender discrimination together with others in Africa and the Middle East.
 Hence, the constructed social roles for females and males represented in Egyptian educational textbooks is an image of an unequal distribution of roles in daily social life based on their sex. While women can work only as a teacher or nurse, males are doctors and engineers. It focuses on how the individual whether a male or female should react and behave in a certain act. It destroyers the "subject" and force the individual to submit to the laws of community, where is individual only part of a particular identity that he cannot change or resist.
For instance, Gender in the Arabic textbook grade 2nd primary, semester 2, draws attention to the socially unequal distinction between femininity and masculinity, the ideas about the implications of biological differences between women and men have served to justify the exclusion or limited inclusion of women in sports. Such views reflect an ideology of biological determinism, where it is claimed that men are inherently strong, aggressive, and competitive and, therefore, better suited to sports, while women are more sensitive, weak, fragile and can play music or do arts.
Furthermore, what I found significant about Gender representation in the textbook, that it does represent only men working in the agriculture sphere, which is totally inconsistent to the Egyptian culture. According to the Egyptian national council for women: rural women in Egypt indicates an account for 49% of the rural population, and that 42.8% of women in Egypt work in agriculture.
While the division of labour between men and women varies by crop, overall men carry out most of the land preparation, planting, weeding, irrigation and pest control, and women contribute moderately to seed preparation, fertilization and harvesting, and significantly to storage and marketing. Food processing is the primary responsibility of women. In animal husbandry, men are primarily responsible for the care of water buffalo, donkeys, cows and sheep, while women carry out most of the milking, processing and marketing of milk and animal products. In fisheries, fish catching, feeding and marketing are primarily men's tasks, while women contribute about 52% of the labour in fish processing and net-making, and carry out 42% of net maintenance and repair. Women also carry out virtually all domestic tasks, including water and fuel collection, and food processing and preparation. Why do women and men tend to specialize in different subject areas? What is it like being a woman in a "man's" subject and a man in a "woman's" subject? Education plays a part in reinforcing gender equality, and therefore we have to examine the social constructions of gender in order to answer the question of living together.

The nation in the textbooks is often presented as an immaculate entity that has rarely, if ever, done harm to anyone; Mistakes "we" have committed are often stifled, revised, or outright ignored. Wrongs of which "we" are on the receiving end, however, are frequently emphasized, embellished, and may even be fabricated.  Moreover, after the analyzations to the textbooks in Egypt, it was clearly shown the robust view of nationalism, although nationalism can be perceived as normal, positive phenomenon, however the nationalism reflected in the textbooks are a way different from this.
• Firstly, the context of the topics covered are almost always limited to national geography, national, history, national culture, and non-civic perspective. Which therefore limits the development of critical thinking and questioning or developing different interpretations to the current education system.
• Secondly, the nationalism reflected in the textbooks imposes criteria regarding how and to what extent patriotism should be demonstrated.
• Thirdly, these criteria are presented as not as normative but as positive statement of which different forms of patriotism are practised, and the concept which personal priorities exits other than patriotism are therefore excluded.
For instance, the claim that Egyptians are an army nation is frequently repeated in history textbooks. "In the reign of King Tuthmosis the Third, the army had a cultural role.It recorded the oddities of the country they invaded, like birds, animals, trees and plants that were unknown to Egypt. This was recorded on the walls of the Karnak Temple" (Prep1, sem1-history textbook: 56)."The army is the first line of defence for your beloved nation Egypt, the army is the only one who is capable of maintaining and protecting the unity of the country" (Prep1, sem1-history textbook: 66).
Moreover, the term "pride" of the civilization "Ancient Egyptians –Pharaohs- and their history is widely included, which I think later imposes the concept that there is no need to build a current civilization, and it serves the state in a political context, making the individual accept the current atrocious situation without objection because they already have an ancient civilization to be proud of.
 "you have to be proud of your civilization "Ancient Egyptians – Pharaohs-" and their history. The stability, prosperity, unity and security we are living now, is due to the fruit of a long struggle thousands of years ago. The Ancient Egyptians are the first people in the world to achieve unity and unity is the only way to build a great civilization" (4th primary-sem1-history textbook: 34)
Furthermore, Egypt is presented in the textbooks as nation whose language and country are under threat due its geopolitical importance. There is always a profound discussion in the textbooks about Egypt being under threat and Pledge for colonists due its important geographical location, where is located in the middle of the continents of the ancient world (Asia, Europe, Africa). It also overlooks the important Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, which helps it to connect with neighbouring countries and stimulate trade and economy. This approach is used to encourage the spirit of national security and the indispensable powerful army to control the nation.
Not only the geographical location which makes the country under threat but also there is a threat on its language "Classical Arabic- Quran language", therefore there is a huge emphasis on the language as an "Identity". 1- Language is he image of the existence of the nation with its ideas and Meanings. 2- Accuracy in the composition and depth of the language is evidence of the tendency of the nation to think and search for causes. 3- The richness of the language and the abundance of its longing is evidence of the nation's tendency towards freedom. 4- The first goal of the colonizer is to weaken the national language of the Occupier. 5- The peoples degenerate with their languages and by their languages. (2nd secondary- sem2- Arabic textbook: 36)
• "For no doubt, the language of the nation is the first target of the colonists. people will not change until its language changes. Language is the origin of the transformation of its ideas, beliefs, emotions and hopes. If the colonist can cut you off from your language, then he is cutting you off from your past, and your identity will become engraved in history, and not present in its presence. It is like the sons of a same father had different languages, so they are becoming the sons of three different fathers.
 Many countries felt this great danger and imposed strict laws in order to preserve the linguistic entity and identity from the decline and took positive steps in preserving them, including: 1- Make it the language of communication and talk in all affairs of life. • 2- Direct the media to maintain the language and not to use the slang levels of it. Therefore we, the "sons of the Arabic language," are aware of the attempts to weaken it. The colonizer holds our language in life imprisonment, judges our past with oblivion, and restricts our future" (2nd secondary- sem2- Arabic textbook: 37)
"Language has a deep connection with ideology and freedom, the language is the true image to its people, it shows how certain people are open and close minded. Language can shape its native's bodies, that's why invaders want to destroy it, and Conspirators wants to conspire it, so it is our job to protect it" (2nd secondary- sem2- Arabic textbook:36)
However, the argument that Arabic is the language of the holy Quran is used to demonstrate that it is normal and inevitable force to perceive language as an ideology and identity. "Language is one of the components of the life of the nations, and Arabic language in particular is one of the most important elements of the Arab identity, for many reasons, but most importantly because its relation to the Quran, the miracle book that came down with it" (2nd secondary- sem2- Arabic textbook: 44). "Arabic is the only language that had never been distorted or changed and stood strong throughout the ages, and that is because it the language of the Wise "Zikar" (2nd secondary- sem2- Arabic textbook:52)
The textbooks also focus on the idea that we have to learn our national morals and sacrifice ourselves for sacred values and that the nation priorities come before our priorities. "Our beloved nation in a very need of our efforts in this harsh period of its history to develop, and this will not happen if we put our personal priorities over the nation, and every one of us should do his duty before calling for his rights" (2nd secondary- sem2- Arabic textbook: 64). There are two types of Egyptians who: Die for Egypt, live for Egypt (2nd secondary-sem2- Arabic textbook: 68). "one does deny the virtue of his homeland, deny the love of his country from his heart, and you cannot establish this love except in the heart of a believer in the values of his nation, we call the youth of Egypt who preferred to go abroad to come back to their country" (2nd secondary-sem2- Arabic textbook: 72). "Come back to Egypt, the small piece of bread with sincerity will satisfies us, and the drop of water with faith will fill our thirst" (2nd secondary-sem2- Arabic textbook: 73). "why you left Egypt? is it because the weakness of your love to Egypt? Or because the weakness of faith of your national identity? Or if the dream we were looking at died before it started?" (2nd secondary- sem2- Arabic textbook:74)

Finally, we see how nationalism was used as an ideology based on the premise that the individual's loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass others is deeply embodied in the textbooks. Therefore, the construction of the terms "us" and them" can lead to discrimination and prejudice. We can refer here again to the social learning theory which emphasizes that there is a discrimination in that context, since it is emphasis on social norms that were taught. Additionally, Realistic group conflict theory can be related, because it explains prejudice as a result of real groups being locked into zero-sum competition over either real or symbolic resources, Individuals perceive the competition at an intergroup level, and competition-making firmer boundaries-dehumanizing the opposing group. Further, Social identity theory-SIT is relevant also, because it explains prejudice as self-concept (awareness), existential (separate from others), and Categorical (age, gender, size, etc.).
 However, we must dig for an answer to the question what can be done in order for the different background to come together without major conflict. Therefore, we can discuss multiculturalism as Bauman urged that we miss community because we miss security. Communities develop a sense of protection and secure, today multiculturalism only means living besides, but not with each other. Bauman asserts that it is advisable to replace the term “multiculturalism”, with the concept of "diasporisation": a process by which the stranger becomes a next-door neighbour. Thus, how to assist re-rooting of the uprooted? Different approaches can answer this question, firstly, there is a personal responsibility on each intellectual individual to help in building conscience, cognitive frames, and spread an awareness on how to sail in unfamiliar water. This can be achieved by developing new life purpose for the group, new loyalties, and new mindsets that can accept the constant social change without feeling inferior. "Design and built new well-structured and mapped settings that would make such navigation possible and effective, and so give shape to the temporarily shapeless ‘mass’; to bring about ‘social order’ or more exactly an orderly society" (Bauman 2001: 126). 
For instance, this may lead to what Nancy Fraser emphasized " a struggle of recognition" which she explains that struggles for recognition occur in a world of exacerbated material inequality—in income and property ownership; in access to paid work, education, health care and leisure time; but also, more starkly in caloric intake and exposure to environmental toxicity, hence in life expectancy and rates of morbidity and mortality. She stressed on the notions of ‘identity’, ‘difference’, ‘cultural domination’, and ‘recognition’. She argues that "we should see ourselves as presented with a new intellectual and practical task: that of developing a critical theory of recognition, one which identifies and defends only those versions of the cultural politics of difference that can be coherently combined with the social politics of equality." She assumes that justice today requires both redistribution and recognition.

In conclusion, I believe to obtain some sort of social cohesion and the degree in which a society holds together, the responsibility of the individual for the common good is the essential element. However, there is no a specific common good in absolute, and every common good we do, also reflects on our lives, the equation here would be that we need to accept the give and take process without perceiving it as hypocrisy or greed or inconsistency, or lack of one's identity. We must ensure the importance of having mutual spaces where young people from different backgrounds can meet. This is crucial for them to develop mutual trust and understanding, to stress on the importance of culture and intercultural dialogue that enables the individuals to build bridges, to encourage contacts and exchanges. And certainly, good education is always the good embark of creating subjects, not passive, and vulnerable individuals. Through developing educational textbooks as Touraine suggested that education must enhance the freedom of the personal Subject (recognize child’s culture, not free from particularism- home and school can converge), Hence, intercommunication rather than solely valuing national culture, emphasis on diversity, communication and the desire to compensate for unequal situations and inequality of opportunity start with the recognition of inequality. That may at the end lead to an answer: yes, we can live together, when we believe that we are the society, Significantly, the responsibility is on us to compare and contrast where is the problem and how to solve it, god will not interfere, neither superheroes, only us and by us.

References: The Egyptian Ministry of Education and Technical Education. 2017-2018, in (ed.). Egypt:  pp. 16-41.
FAO, Fact sheet, world bank.1994. Egypt-Women, agriculture and rural development. , Available at: (Accessed).
International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database. March 2017. Employment in agriculture, female (% of female employment)., Available at: (Accessed).
The Egyptian Ministry of Education and Technical Education. 2017-2018. 2nd secondary- sem2- Arabic textbook., Egypt.
The Egyptian Ministry of Education and Technical Education. 2017-2018. Prep1, sem1-history textbook., Egypt.
The Egyptian Ministry of Education and Technical Education. 2017-2018. 4th primary-sem1-history textbook., Egypt.
Abrams, D. and M. A. Hogg. 2010. Social Identity and Self-Categorization. In J. F. Dovidio (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping and Discrimination, London, Sage, pp. 179-189.
Dovidio J. F. 2011. Prejudice, Stereotyping and Discrimination: Theoretical and Empirical Overview”. In J. F. Dovidio (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping and Discrimination, London, Sage, pp. 3-29.
Bauman, Z. 2001. Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 124-150.
Touraine, A. 2000. A School for the Subject. In A. Touraine, Can We Live Together?  Standford: Standford University Press, pp. 265-287.
(S) Nancy Fraser, “From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a ‘Post-Socialist’ Age”, New Left Review, July-August 1995, Issue 212, pp. 68-93. 


  1. Very good effort
    Hope in the next writing make it more concise, in a small points with much more simple language.
    Hope as well to answer why can't we live together?

  2. Thank you alot, actually it was a paper for my uni that's why it is that long.
    I think i tried to answer it by refering to the problem of education. Maybe when we get a better one will be able to live together.


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