Avis, James (1981) Social and Technical Relations: the case of further education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 2 (2). pp. 145-161. ISSN 0142-5692

This paper stresses the complexity of further education (FE). In order to take cognisance of this complexity a number of themes are discussed. The role of FE in 'reproducing' social and technical relations is discussed and it is argued that social relations are crucial in the formation of technical relations. However, in order to grasp the nature of FE, technical relations need to be accorded 'relative autonomy'. An additional thematic of the paper is that the concept of social relations needs to be broadened so that it is no longer conceived of narrowly in terms of productive relations. It is argued that structures which are analytically outside of production need to be incorporated into the concept of social relations. Reference is made to the structures of race, patriarchy and generation and it is argued that we need to consider the way in which these various structures intersect with one another thereby structuring the form of social relations. An important concept that would enable us to do this is that of struggle. Indeed it is suggested that struggle should be central, to the analysis. A final thematic of the paper is the epistemological suggestion that one's theories to be adequate need to approach in a meaningful way the complexity of that with which they are concerned.