Democracy and Culture.

Democracy and Culture. "The University Extension"

Author(s): Andrei Negru
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Editura Academiei Române
Keywords: Virgil I. Bărbat; democracy; culture; democratization of culture; cultural and educational work; The University Extension

Summary/Abstract: In the context of interwar Romanian sociology, Virgil I. Bărbat (1879– 1931) is a name of reference. Founder of sociological university education in Cluj and holder of sociology department during the first decade of its activity, Virgil I. Bărbat was equally a sensitive sociologist mindful of the highly complex problems of the age. Like other of his contemporaries, Virgil I. Bărbat was aware that the task of sociology in a society in crisis, as the Romanian society was after World War II, was that of defining it and offering solutions for its reentering into normality. The theoretical solution offered by him was the democratization of culture, considered to be the main medium of social democratization, and the practical solution was the institution of University Extension. The idea of “university extension”, “the going” of the university into the social environment to meet, by scientific means, the knowledge and cultural needs of the general public, derives in the case of Virgil I. Bărbat from another one, that of close relationship that should exist between school and society in general, and between university and modern society in particular, and of mutual relationships between them. Another reason of the existence of The University Extension was, in his opinion, the ample process of democratization of the world generated by the World War who had decisively marked the beginning of the twentieth century, involving the more and more real and effective participation of the masses in the management of public life and thus training them to meet the demands imposed by the system of political democracy. This training for the democratic lifestyle type was required in all countries regardless of their socio-economic and political development, its need being felt more acutely in a young state, as Romania was, whose inhabitants had not, for objective reasons, the level of awareness and knowledge required by the democratic system. In order that democracy to impose itself as a viable alternative of government in the Romanian society the spreading of culture among all members was necessary. In his opinion, a double expropriation was necessary in the field of culture: on one hand, expropriation of illiteracy, operable at the level of the majority of population, dominated by illiteracy, and on the other hand expropriation of culture, involving a relatively small social circle, sole beneficiary of the benefits of culture so far. The most readily available means for carrying out "cultural expropriation" was the school of all grades, whose educational offer had to be extended beyond its formal framework. University Extension was therefore only one component of school extension in general, of lifelong education. Virgil I. Bărbat’s option regarding University Extension as an instrument of cultural policy was motivated by the fact that university represented the top of the pyramid of the educational system.

  • Issue Year: IX/2011
  • Issue No: 9
  • Page Range: 25-36
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: French