05 SES 08 A, Urban Education & Children and Youth at Risk
Parallel Paper Session
This research examines how the counter terrorism (CT) agenda is interpreted and experienced in secondary schools, with a particular focus on the impact of CT on marginalised youth. Since 9/11, terrorist attacks in Madrid and London, numerous threats in Germany, the threat of terrorism has impacted upon public policy and spaces on a greater scale than previous terrorist threats (Fussey 2007; Coaffee & Rogers 2008). The CT agenda in the West means populations are subjected to new regimes of control, surveillance and preparedness (Butler 2004a; Chadderton & Preston 2011). This paper reports upon a timely and innovative project which takes the UK as a case study, and investigates the way in which the global threat of terrorism is negotiated at a local level, exploring the ways CT impacts on life in schools.
Counter terrorism may seem an unusual topic for education research. However, there are a range of programmes linked to schools in the UK which are influenced by the CT agenda. E.g. Prevent (refocused 2011), and the Channel project, which aim to prevent young people becoming radicalized (Thomas, 2010). The DfES (2005) produced guidance for schools to directly tackle terrorism after the London bombings, and the DCSF (2008) introduced an ‘extremism toolkit’ for schools. While not exclusively tied to CT, new surveillance technologies in schools such as CCTV and cyberspace surveillance have increased (Hope 2009; Taylor 2010), and on-site police are becoming more common.
Although CT agendas in the UK have focused on the far right, animal rights groups, student protestors, anarchists, Irish nationalists and Islamic extremism, the present government has focused primarily on the Islamic threat. Such agendas play out differently in terms of ethnicity, class, religion, locality and gender. This research fills a gap by assessing the impact of CT agendas on different social groups in a school context, and providing in-depth empirical research with individuals implicated in the CT agenda in schools.
Key research questions include:
- How is the CT agenda interpreted by schools?
- What factors might determine schools’ CT responses?
- What is the social impact of the CT agenda and related discourses, including upon security, rights, belonging, citizenship, democracy, and social inequalities?
- How do children and adults negotiate CT discourses?
Insights from the work of Butler (1997, 2004b) are employed as a framework for analysis. This facilitates an exploration of how discourses around terror, threat and surveillance shape the roles and identities of students and staff, and the way they perform and negotiate these roles. Butler’s notion of the discursive and performative constitution of identities and realities allows an investigation of how CT discourses impact differently on different bodies, potentially contributing to social inequalities as discourses are internalised and certain populations are constituted as either ‘threatening’ or under threat.
In keeping with this year’s conference theme of freedom and popular sovereignty, I explore Butler’s (2004a) claim that we are experiencing a shift from governance to sovereignty in my analysis.
Butler, J. 1997. The psychic life of power. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Butler, J. 2004a. Precarious Life. London, New York: Verso. Butler, J. 2004b. Undoing Gender. New York, Abingdon: Routledge. Chadderton, C. & Preston, J. 2011. Grievable bodies and recognisable lives: a Butlerian and CRT analysis of mass casualty plans and surveillance in the ‘war on terror’. Paper presented at British Sociological Association Conference, LSE, April 7. Chadderton, C. & H. Torrance. 2010. Case Study. In Theory and methods in social research, eds. Somekh and Lewin. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage. Coaffee, J. and P. Rogers. 2008. Rebordering the city for new security challenges: from counter terrorism to community resilience. Space and polity, 12, no.1: 101-118. Department for Children Schools and Families. 2008. Learning to be safe: a toolkit to help schools contribute to the prevention of violent extremism. London: DCSF. Department for Education and Skills. 2005. Moving on from 7/7: advice to schools. London: DfES. Fussey, P. 2007. Observing Potentiality in the Global City: Surveillance and Counterterrorism in London. International Criminal Justice Review,17, no.3: 171-192. Hope, A. 2009. CCTV, school surveillance and social control. British Educational Research Journal, 35, no. 6:891-907. Monahan, T. and R. Torres. 2010. (Eds.) Schools under surveillance. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Taylor, E. 2010. I spy with my little eye: the use of CCTV in schools and the impact on privacy, Sociological Review, 58, no. 3: 381-405. Thomas, P. 2010. Failed and Friendless: The UK's ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ Programme. The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 12, no.3: 442-458. Porfilio & Carr (2008) Youth culture, the mass media, and democracy. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 12, no. 4. Rudduck, J. (2002) The transformative potential of consulting young people about teaching, learning and schooling, Scottish Educational Review, 34, no.2:123-137.
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