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Specialization was the first dimension of LCT to emerge. The papers below unfold the development of the concepts comprising this dimension, from specialization codes through the epistemic–pedagogic device and to knowledge–knower structures (echoing Bernstein's three key theoretical landmarks). They have then been further elaborated in the 4-K model. For studies using these concepts see pages in the PRACTICE section.

The papers listed below have been substantially revised for Knowledge and Knowers: Towards a realist sociology of education.  Some conventions and concept names have changed. After reading any of the papers below we strongly suggest checking the Concept glossary page of the website for terms.

SPECIALIZATION CODES (epistemic relations & social relations)

Maton, K. (2000) Languages of legitimation: The structuring significance for intellectual fields of strategic knowledge claims, British Journal of Sociology of Education 21 (2), 147-167.

Maton, K. (2000) Recovering pedagogic discourse: A Bernsteinian approach to the sociology of educational knowledge, Linguistics & Education 11 (1), 79-98.

Revised version: Maton, K. (2010) Analysing knowledge claims and practices: Languages of legitimation, in Maton, K. & Moore, R. (Eds.) Social Realism, Knowledge and the Sociology of Education: Coalitions of the mind. London, Continuum, 35-59.

Finalized version is chapter 2 of Knowledge and Knowers.

These papers begin from the argument that the sociology of educational knowledge remains a sociology without a theory of knowledge. Through an illustrative study of the history of cultural studies, they highlight the significance of the structuring of knowledge for the development of intellectual fields and explores the conditions disabling the cumulative building of knowledge. Theoretically, they set out concepts that integrate the insights of Bourdieu and Bernstein by conceiving of knowledge and practices as 'languages of legitimation'. The underlying principles structuring these practices are conceptualised as legitimation codes, which brings together sociological and epistemological understandings of knowledge. The papers analyse the underlying principles of claims made for cultural studies as embodying a 'knower code' of legitimation, whereby knowledge is reduced to knowers. The implications of this code for the development of cultural studies is then discussed in analyses that accurately predicted the closure of its key centres of research, the dissipation of named degree courses in the subject, its fragmentation into a range of factional interests, and the move of actors and ideas into subjects such as sociology.

These papers were first circulated as a conference paper in 1998. 'Languages of legitimation' (LOL) shows how legitimation code brings together the insights of Pierre Bourdieu and Basil Bernstein. 'Recovering pedagogic discourse' (RPD) shows how they bring together Bernstein's concepts of 'educational knowledge codes' with his later ideas of different 'knowledge structures'. RPD also contains a fuller analysis of how a knower code develops over time.


See chapter 3 of Knowledge and Knowers for a completely revised version of these ideas.

Moore, R. & Maton, K. (2001) Founding the sociology of knowledge: Basil Bernstein, intellectual fields and the epistemic device, in Morais, A., Neves, I., Davies, B. & Daniels, H. (Eds.) Towards a Sociology of Pedagogy: The contribution of Basil Bernstein to research. New York, Peter Lang, 153-182.

Building on LOL and RPD, this excavates beneath 'specialization codes'' to hypothesise the existence of a generative mechanism which shapes the nature of intellectual production: the 'epistemic device'. Analogous to Bernstein's 'pedagogic device', the epistemic device is the basis for setting legitimation principles for knowledge claims and practices. The paper uses specialization codes to compare recurrent claims to renewal and rebirth in humanities and social sciences with the extended epistemic community involved in solving Fermat's Theorem. This analyses how different settings of the device (specialization codes) shape fields in particular ways to enable epistemic communities that are restricted or extended in time and social space. The epistemic device is posited as the foundational object of study for the sociology of knowledge.

NOTE: in chapter 3 of Knowledge and Knowers, this notion has been completely revised to become the 'epistemic-pedagogic device'. The new conceptualisation includes a significant revisioning of Bernstein's notion of the arena created by the pedagogic device, as well as clarifying how the new concepts extend and integrate Bernstein's formulation.


See chapter 4 of Knowledge and Knowers.

Maton, K. (2006) On knowledge structures and knower structures, in Moore, R., Arnot, M., Beck, J. & Daniels, H. (Eds.) Knowledge, Power and Educational Reform: Applying the sociology of Basil Bernstein. London, Routledge, 44-59.

Maton K. (2007) Knowledge-knower structures in intellectual and educational fields, in Christie, F. & Martin, J. (Eds.) Language, Knowledge and Pedagogy: Functional linguistic and sociological perspectives. London, Continuum, 87-108 (page numbers marked).

These papers extends the framework to provide a means of understanding intellectual and educational fields of practice more generally. They introduce and elaborate the notion of 'knower structures'. Bernstein conceptualised the discursive formations of intellectual fields as 'knowledge structures'. These papers argue that an intellectual or educational field is more than just a structure of knowledge, it is also a structure of knowers. Such fields should thus be understood as 'knowledge-knower structures'. This idea is introduced through discussion of two very different cases: the famous 'two cultures' debate between CP Snow and FR Leavis, and studies into the unpopularity of school qualifications in Music. These very different cases are used to show how the concepts can be applied to both the fields of knowledge production and reproduction (curriculum), bringing the two into a single framework. (The 2006 paper is a much shorter and earlier version of the 2007 paper).


See chapter 5 of Knowledge and Knowers.

Maton, K. (2010) Invisible tribunals: Progress and knowledge-building in the humanities, in Singh, P., Sadovnik, A. & Semel, S. (Eds.) Toolkits, Translation Devices and Conceptual Accounts: Essays o n Basil Bernstein's sociology of knowledge. New York, Peter Lang.

Maton, K. (2010) Progress and canons in the arts and humanities: Knowers and gazes, in Maton, K. & Moore, R. (Eds.) Social Realism, Knowledge and the Sociology of Education: Coalitions of the mind. London, Continuum, 154-178.

This paper addresses the conditions for knowledge building in the arts and humanities. Typically, theorising (including Bernstein's framework) has focused on analysing the sciences as the benchmark for integrative and subsumptive knowledge creation. This, however, neglects the specificities of the arts and humanities. The paper argues that to reach the same ends requires a different means; i.e. knowledge-building takes a different form in these fields. Its basis is theorised in terms of different kinds of 'gaze' that underpin legitimate insight in different disciplines. The substantive focus of the chapter is on debates over the role of canons in literary criticism. It shows how a canon can serve as the basis for democratic, inclusive and cumulative knowledge-building - defending the notion of canons against both conservative and 'radical' misunderstandings. An early draft paper was written for the Fourth International Basil Bernstein Symposium (2006, Rutgers, USA). The second paper above is an extended and revised version of the first.


See chapter 9 of Knowledge and Knowers.

Maton, K. (2010) The 4-K model: Clashes, shifts and relations of knowledge practices

This paper distinguishes between different kinds of epistemic and social relations, enabling a more powerful analysis of knowledge practices. Using these developed concepts it explores relation clashes in economics and cultural studies and such relation shifts as the 'linguistic turn' and debates over educational expansion. The resulting 4-K model is then used to map the range of approaches to understanding knowledge and education, exploring different fallacies that result from failing to clarify distinctions among the constitutive relations of knowledge.

'Insights' is introduced and exemplified in this keynote address (download is audio + slides):

Karl Maton explores relations between LCT and SFL using 'insights' from the 4-K model of Specialisation in this talk (download is audio + slides):

Maton, K. (2012) The next generation: Inter-disciplinary research into strange new worlds,39th International Systemic Functional Congress, University of Technology, Sydney, July.

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 September 2017 14:23