19 SES 05, Rural Communities and Education
Globally, the political landscape would appear to be shifting with a growth in what has been termed 'populism', an ideological concept whose relationship with liberal democracy is both contested and complex. In seeking to better undertstand that complexity the paper will theoretically and conceptually draw on the political scientific work of Arditi (2008) and Judis (2016) as well as Laclau (2005), Mouffe (1993) and others.
Recent political and arguably populist developments in the United States have witnessed on the 'right' the unexpected election of Donald Trump as the next Republican President as well as a surge in hitherto unheralded support in the Democrat party for the 'left-wing' nominee Bernie Sanders. Moreover, youth uprisings at South African universities such as the Rhodes Must Fall campaign may be framed as a left wing popularist rejection of Western/European knowledge and neo-colonial globalisation. The European context has witnessed a surprising and aguably 'anti-establishment' position taken by the United Kingdom electorate in voting to leave the European Union. In other parts of Europe we are winessing a growth in right-wing support for populist and nationalist parties such as the National Front in France and left-wing populist support for parties such as Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.
As these events unfold the paper attempts to come to terms with the concept of populism and its relationship to education and educational research. In working from an ethnographic standpoint the paper seeks through cultural immersion to engage, uncover and portray the experiences, feelings and perceptions of white working class young people in education as well as parents with school-age children. In this regard the ethnographic work underpinning the paper is ideally placed and situated to access 'in-depth' data from a section of English society for whom populism is seemingly having an increasing appeal and in so doing better understand the nature of that appeal and why it is taking hold.
In partiuclar the paper reflects critically on ethnographic data derived from a three year study in a white working class former coal mining village community in the North East of England. It draws on participant observation and interview data with young people and parents to ascertain their sense of identity and perceptions about living in a community devastated by years of economic deprivation. The study reveals the ways in which for these white working class individuals there exists strong feelings of frustration, anger and abandonment; feelings which bring to the surface issues of race, class and politics which are perceived as challenging their identity, values, livelihood and voice.
Arditi, B (2008) Politics on the Edges of Liberalism Difference, Populism, Revolution, Agitation. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh Braun, V., and V. Clarke. 2006. “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology.” Qualitative Research in Psychology 3 (2): 77–101. Burgess, R. G. 1981. Keeping a Research Diary.Cambridge Journal of Education 11 (1): 75–83. DeWalt, K. M., and B. R. DeWalt. 2002. Participant Observation: A Guide for Fieldworkers. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press Judis., J., B (2016) The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics. Columbia Global Reports: New York Laclau E ( 2005) 0n Populist Reason. London: Verso Mouffe, C (1993) The Return of the Political. London: Verso
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