Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2014 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Political Perspectives in Mathematics Education

  • Paola Valero
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4978-8_126


A political perspective in mathematics education is a way of looking at how mathematics, education, and society relate to power. It stands on the critical recognition that mathematics is not only important in society due to its exceptional, intrinsic characteristics as the purest and most powerful form of abstract thinking but also and foremost, because of its functionality in the constitution of the dominant cultural project of Modernity. Thus, it assumes that the teaching and learning of mathematics are not neutral practices but that they insert people – be it children, youth, teachers, and adults – in socially valued mathematical rationalities and forms of knowing. Such insertion is part of larger processes of selection of people that schooling operates in society. It results in differential positioning of inclusion or exclusion of learners in relation to access to socially privileged resources such as further education, labor market, and cultural goods.




Power Politics Modernity Neutrality of mathematics Social rationalities In(ex)clusion Mathematics for all Credit system Subjectivity 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Appelbaum PM (1995) Popular culture, educational discourse, and mathematics. State University of New York, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Baldino R, Cabral T (2006) Inclusion and diversity from Hegelylacan point of view: do we desire our desire for change? Int J Sci Math Educ 4:19–43Google Scholar
  3. Christensen OR, Skosvmose O, Yasukawa K (2008) The mathematical state of the world – explorations into the characteristics of mathematical descriptions. ALEXANDRIA. Revista de Educação em Ciência e Tecnologia 1:77–90Google Scholar
  4. Damerow P, Dunkley M, Nebres B, Werry B (eds) (1984) Mathematics for all. UNESCO, ParisGoogle Scholar
  5. Frankenstein M (1995) Equity in mathematics education: class in the world outside the class. In: Fennema E, Adajian L (eds) New directions for equity in mathematics education. Cambridge University, Cambridge, pp 165–190Google Scholar
  6. Gutiérrez R (2012) Context matters: how should we conceptualize equity in mathematics education? In: Herbel-Eisenmann B, Choppin J, Wagner D, Pimm D (eds) Equity in discourse for mathematics education. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 17–33Google Scholar
  7. Gutierrez R (2013) The sociopolitical turn in mathematics education. J Res Math Educ 44(1):37–68Google Scholar
  8. Knijnik G (2012) Differentially positioned language games: ethnomathematics from a philosophical perspective. Educ Stud Math 80:87–100Google Scholar
  9. Lerman S (2000) The social turn in mathematics education research. In: Boaler J (ed) Multiple perspectives on mathematics teaching and learning. Ablex, Westport, pp 19–44Google Scholar
  10. Lundin S (2012) Hating school, loving mathematics: on the ideological function of critique and reform in mathematics education. Educ Stud Math 80:73–85Google Scholar
  11. Martin DB (2011) What does quality mean in the context of white institutional space? In: Atweh B, Graven M, Secada W, Valero P (eds) Mapping equity and quality in mathematics education. Springer, New York, pp 437–450Google Scholar
  12. Mellin-Olsen S (1987) The politics of mathematics education. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  13. Moreau MP, Mendick H, Epstein D (2010) Constructions of mathematicians in popular culture and learners’ narratives: a study of mathematical and non-mathematical subjectivities. Camb J Educ 40:25–38Google Scholar
  14. Pais A (2012) A critical approach to equity. In: Skosvmose O, Greer B (eds) Opening the cage. Critique and politics of mathematics education. Sense, Rotterdam, pp 49–92Google Scholar
  15. Popkewitz TS (2004) The alchemy of the mathematics curriculum: inscriptions and the fabrication of the child. Am Educ Res J 41:3–34Google Scholar
  16. Skovsmose O, Valero P (2008) Democratic access to powerful mathematical ideas. In: English LD (ed) Handbook of international research in mathematics education. Directions for the 21st century, 2nd edn. Erlbaum, Mahwah, pp 415–438Google Scholar
  17. Valero P (2004) Socio-political perspectives on mathematics education. In: Valero P, Zevenbergen R (eds) Researching the socio-political dimensions of mathematics education: issues of power in theory and methodology. Kluwer, Boston, pp 5–24Google Scholar
  18. Valero P, García G, Camelo F, Mancera G, Romero J (2012) Mathematics education and the dignity of being. Pythagoras 33(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v33i2.171
  19. Walkerdine V (1988) The mastery of reason: cognitive development and the production of rationality. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Walshaw M (ed) (2010) Unpacking pedagogies. New perspectives for mathematics. Information Age, CharlotteGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Learning and PhilosophyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark