Abstract 6, Volume 8, Number 3, Winter 2013

Rhizomic Thinking: Towards a New Consideration of Social Studies Practice

Jim Parsons

Bryan Clarke

University of Alberta  


Social studies teachers engage a vast subject area within which they can enlist a wide scope of possible curriculum and pedagogy choices.  Despite the opportunity to engage students with an abundance of potentially fruitful themes, topics, and ideas, social studies teaching can be captured by the need to cover specific content in particular ways.  Philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1983), in Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, would connect such an agenda to the capitalistic machine that shrinks potential sources into what Foucault (1980) sees as tendencies to seek control rather than the openness of becoming.  We contend that Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the rhizome opens new lines of flight in social studies curricula and works to revolutionize social studies as a subject area that often has been over-standardized and taught as one-size-fits-all.  We also contend that rhizomic thinking can renew how students see the world and transform how they interpret events, epochs, eras, and cultures by drawing from rhizomic research’s bamboo-like qualities.

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