14 SES 02 C JS, Geographies of Opportunities, Participation and Mobility
Joint Paper Session NW 14 and NW 19
This paper is the result of research that took place in an underperforming school in the south of England. The school is located on a deprived estate and takes its pupils from an area in the bottom quintile with regard to deprivation indicators and regularly features at the bottom of local league tables. Recently converted to academy status (an academy in the UK is a state funded school which is independent from local authority control) the school is in the process of being rebuilt. The school in question is seen as abject by the broader community and features a large number of disruptive and disaffected students.
The question that this paper focusses on is: How do student’s relationships with adults affect their engagement with school? And how do they make their voices heard?
In order to investigate these questions the paper draws on the work of Foucault (1979, 1982, 2003) who suggested that in order to understand how power relations work it is necessary to investigate resistance rather than trying to understand power from the perspective of its own rationality. This approach is useful since students in school do not resist specific institutions or groups, but specific instances of power personified by those that they come into immediate contact with on a day to day basis. To understand the field in which these power relations operate, the paper also incorporates concepts of space and place developed by Doreen Massey (2005) and Tim Ingold (2008) whereby space is a product of interrelations permanently under construction as opposed to simply a surface and place becomes a product of these intersections.
The work of Adriana Cavarero (2000) is used to highlight an individual’s desire to narrate their lives and Axel Honneth’s notion of recognition (2007, 2012) is used to analyse the nature of relationships between students and their teachers. Building on this, the concept of voice as a process, as defined by Nick Couldry (2010), is used in conjunction with criticisms of formal school voice procedures by Fielding (2004) to understand the failure of school council procedures to address these issues.
Although the research took place in a specific British school, it remains relevant to a wider European audience due to the expansion of Neo-liberal education policies across Europe through strategies such as the Lisbon Agenda (Turner & Yolcu, 2014). Through these policies, the purposes of education are assumed as being a priori to the educational experience and, as a result, the voices of children are not listened to.
Cavarero, A. (2000). Relating narratives: Storytelling and selfhood. London: Routledge. Couldry, N. (2010). Why Voice Matters. London: SAGE. Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and Punish. London: Penguin. Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. Critical Inquiry. 8(4), 777-795. Foucault, M. (2003). Society Must be Defended. London: Penguin. Fielding, M. (2004). Transformative approaches to student voice: Theoretical underpinnings, recalcitrant realities. British Educational Research Journal. 30(2), 295-311. Honneth, A. (2007). Disrespect: The normative foundations of critical theory. Cambridge: Polity Press. Honneth, A. (2012). The I in We: Studies in the Theory of Recognition. Cambridge: Polity Press. Ingold, T. (2008). Binding against boundaries: Entanglements of life in an open world. Environment and Planning A. 40, 1796-1810. Lee, J. & Ingold, T. (2006). Fieldwork on foot: Perceiving, routing, socializing, in Coleman, S. & Collins, P. (Eds) Locating the Field: Space, Place and Context in Anthropology. Oxford: Berg. Massey, D. (2005). For Space. London: SAGE. Pink, S. (2009). Doing Sensory Ethnography. London: SAGE. Turner, D. A. & Yolcu, H. (2014). Neo-liberal Educational Reforms: A Critical Analysis. London: Routledge.
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