Learning to take advice. Tropes and practices of consultation in the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture‘s educational films work


25 Jun 2022, 09:00 – 25 Jun 2022, 10:44


Politehnica University of Bucharest

Vortrag von Joachim Schätz bei NECS 2022 „Epistemic Media: Atlas Archive Network“ in Bucharest als Teil des Panels „Educational film as practice: epistemic settings and procedures”

In comparison to school and university education, the pedagogical procedures and mediated protocols of professional training and advice have been rather understudied both in the history of education and of useful media. This may partly be due to 1) the fuzzy contours of consultation as a pedagogical situation between information, coercion and promotion, and 2) the dependence of individual consulting setups and dynamics on economic, legal and institutional determinants which can hardly be integrated into a uniform concept of consulting. As a case in point, I investigate the film work of the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture during the 1930s and from 1945 to the 1960s, which commissioned and distributed a catalogue of educational films aimed at farmers and foresters. Drawing on the films from this collection, their accompanying materials and surviving lending documentation, I will sketch the institutional networks, performance dispositifs as well as recurring formal and rhetoric strategies of these films. I will compare this case with others recent forays into the field of mediated and film-based consultation, most prominently Florian Hoof’s study of efficiency experts advising managers. In both cases, for example, a notion of ‘expertise’ objectified via media is key for gaining the attention and ensuring the cooperation of different agents. The rhetoric, even dramaturgy of gaining this cooperation is somewhat different, though, for the Ministry of Agriculture’s film work. Given the status of farming and foresting in 20th-century Austria as mostly independent small-scale production, the differences between outside expertise and localized know-how are negotiated delicately, as is consulting’s association with the state (and often, with private companies promoting their goods). Most strikingly, the very setting of film-based consulting is frequently made part of framing narratives within the films: They aim not least to educate their audiences in how and why to take advice.