28 SES 13, Critical Sociological Theories of Educational Leadership and Their Methodological and Practice Implications in Denmark, Italy, England and Australia
Educational leadership and management is now a transnational field of educational research with a recognizable lexicon, key players and logics of practice. Historically, the field has been largely conservative in orientation, drawing heavily from Anglo and Ameri- centric organisation and business studies. While the field has always been selectively mobilised by policy-makers, transnational interest in educational leadership has intensified as neoliberal policies, predominantly informed by the school effectiveness and leadership (SEI) literature, has fed The Great Education Reform Movement (Sahlberg 2011). GERM has moved into Europe, Asia, South Africa and South America due to the political focus on PISA rankings, the entry of new and highly competitive Asian nations (Macpherson et al 2014) and the take-up up of SEI by multinational edu-businesses (philanthro-capitalists like Gates, Pearson publishing and consultancy firms such as McKinsey). Particular policy actors of Anglophone background are nevertheless dominant in disseminating the a-theoretical and decontextualized doxa of SEI and/or the privatisation of public education (Ball 2012).
The GERM has taken a particular turn in the fabricated European education space, unfolded through the long history of EU cooperation in education and training. The emergence of a European educational space requires a complex re-assemblage of the multiple worlds of the European education systems (Lawn and Grek 2012; Lawn and Normand 2015; Normand and Derouet 2017); the discourse of educational leadership and management has been a key lever to promote school improvement and efficiency, as well as performance in league tables, at both national and the European level (Gunter et al. 2016). However, the financial crisis, slow economic recovery, the questions of migration and refugees, terrorist episodes, the political ascendancy of populism, etc. are shaking the ‘building blocks’ of Europeanization, and casting doubt on the optimistic, and maybe too modernist, assumptions about the Europeanisation of education. The changing conditions of Europeanization produce more complex readings of current transformations – this opens the door to critical approaches, including more theoretical approaches educational leadership and management.
Since the 1980s the ELMA field has hosted critical leadership and management scholars who draw on neo Marxism, the new sociology of knowledge and anti-racist and feminist perspectives (e.g. critical pedagogy), often heavily influenced by European sociologists such as Habermas and “Continental philosophy”. Critical studies of school systems and leadership practice highlight the failure of the field to address key issues in contemporary 21st C society—new technologies, mobile student and teacher populations and the affective domain. The 2000s has seen a desire to revitalise the field as the consequences of the theoretically bereft GERM have become apparent with growing polarity in achievement between students, communities and schools (Raffo et al 2010). This revitalisation is evident within the field in the turn to more critical theoretical frames such as Foucault, Hannah Arendt, Deleuze and Derrida; a shift to theorise leadership as a social or relational practice rather than an individual endowment; the impact of the affective economies of schooling; considerations as to the socio-materiality of practice with the ubiquitous technologies; and a renewed focus on social justice.
This symposium provides alternative theoretical frames from which to address the reality of historically situated, everyday leadership practices in Denmark, Italy England and Australia, utilizing the theoretical tools of psy-leadership, Actor Network Theory, Bourdieu and Nancy Fraser respectively. Each paper considers - What is the explanatory power of such a theoretical frame for researchers within their leadership research traditions? What are the methodological issues? How can such theories inform leadership practice within specific cultural and policy contexts?
Ball, S 2012, Global Education Inc.: New policy Networks and The Neoliberal Imaginary, Routledge, London. Gunther, H M., Grimaldi, E Hall,D and Serpieri, R. eds. 2016. New Public Management and the Reform of Education. London: Routledge. Lawn, M, and Grek, S. 2012. Europeanizing Education: Governing a New Policy Space. Oxford: Symposium Books. Lawn, Martin, and Normand, R. eds. 2015. Shaping of European Education Interdisciplinary Approaches. London: Routledge. McPherson, I Robertson, S & Walford, G 2014, Education, privatization and social justice. Case Studies from Africa, South Asia and South East Asia, Symposium Books, Southampton. Normand, R, and Derouet, J.L eds. 2017. A European Politics of Education: Perspectives from Sociology, Policy Studies and Politics. London: Routledge. Raffo, C et al (eds) 2010, Education and Poverty in Affluent Countries, Routledge, London. Ribbins, P & Gunter, H 2002, Leadership studies in education: towards a map of the field, Educational Management Administration and Leadership 30, 387-416. Sahlberg, P. 2011, Finnish Lessons. What Can The World Learn from Educational Change in Finland, Teachers College Press, New York.
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