Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
“Das Schulwesen aber ist und bleibet allezeit ein politicum”: School Reform in the 18th century Habsburg Monarchy as Slight Secular Emancipation and Bureaucratic Colonization
Martin Viehhauser

Última modificación: 2017-07-17


The paper addresses the secular emancipation of the school system in the Habsburg Monarchy of the 18th and early 19th century. The above quote reflects the emancipatory agenda of Empress Maria Theresa, which aimed at redirecting authority of planning and organizing the school system away from the Catholic Church and into the hands of official bureaucracy: The school system, she states, is and should for always be a ‘public’ preoccupation, rather than an “ecclesiastical” one. The ‘making’ of a public-school system – especially with respect to compulsory primary schooling – was, however, slow going and ambivalent (cf. Engelbrecht 1986; Donnermair 2010). Maria Theresa sought for a reform agenda with close collaboration rather than a radical break with the Catholic Church, which turned out to be an indispensable partner, e.g. by providing personnel. Religion still played a fundamental role also as a school subject. Nevertheless, the emancipation process was progressing decisively towards an enlightened monarchy. This is especially due to a number of organizational decisions taken in the second half of the 18th century. In the 1750s, several territorial entities were subject to extensive school surveys, and in 1760, Maria Theresa founded the organizational unit Studienhofkommission, which elaborated the school act Allgemeine Schulordnung in 1774, mainly written by the Catholic prelate and Silesian school reformer Johann Ignaz Felbiger. Bureaucratic structures and authoritative procedures that were successively implemented contributed to an “isomorphic” change (Meyer & Rowan 1977; DiMaggio & Powell 1983) of the school system throughout the heartlands of the Empire. By drawing on the conceptual framework of neo-institutionalism, the paper examines the period of school reform initiated by Maria Theresa and addresses the phenomenon that the authoritative constitution of an institutional environment for the school system contributed to a slight secular emancipation that at the same time led – this is the main assumption here – to a steady normative colonization of the territories of the Empire by bureaucratic tools of standardization regimes.