Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

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From the Old New Republic to a Great Community: Insights and Contradictions in John Dewey’s Public Pedagogy

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Abstract:  This article draws from John Dewey’s philosophy of education, ideas about democracy and pragmatist assumptions to explain how his articles for The New Republic functioned pedagogically. Taking media as a mode of public pedagogy, and drawing extensively from Dewey’s Democracy and Education, as well as from his book The Public and its Problems, the article explores the relationships between communication, education and democracy using the expanded conceptions of all the aforementioned advanced by Dewey. Borrowing insights from Randolph Bourne, who used Dewey’s own ideas to criticize his mentor’s influence on intellectuals who supported US involvement in World War I, the analysis explores the contradictions within Dewey’s public pedagogy. The article suggests Dewey’s relevance as a public intellectual in the liberal-progressive press, his view of the State and some of his related presuppositions produced a tension in his thought, delimiting democratic possibilities while simultaneously pointing toward greater democratic potentials. The essay concludes by suggesting that learning from both Dewey and Bourne prompts us to get beyond the former’s public/private dualism to realize what he called the “Great Community” by communicating and practicing the Commons.

Keywords:  John Dewey; media; media history; public pedagogy; Randolph Bourne; The New Republic



© James Anderson. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.