Archive | Gender and Education 23.6

Slippage and/or symbolism: gender, policy and educational governance in Scotland and Sweden

The co-authors of this article have been working together in Sweden (Elisabet Öhrn & Gaby Weiner) and in Scotland (Gaby Weiner & Joan Forbes) for a number of years. The idea for this policy study piece grew from involvement in a project on social and other capitals in independent schooling in Scotland. Gender was found to be significant in/through which capitals resources worked. One school exhibited a ‘traditional’ gender regime, exemplified in its privileging of boys’ sport, boys’ overall confidence and apparent lack of gender awareness among staff; another had an explicit discourse of girls’ high academic achievement and aspiration; a third school encouraged newer, more urbane and ‘sensitive’ forms of middle class masculinities alongside traditional forms of masculinity. We were interested in knowing more about the Scottish gender policy context for that study and how it compared to that of Sweden – another relatively small country on the periphery of Europe. Continue Reading

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Gender, community and education: cultures of resistance in Socialist Sunday Schools and Black Supplementary Schools

I started the historical research that is the basis for my article in the upcoming Gender and Education issue (23:6) in 2007. At this time, New Labour’s policy emphasis on ‘empowerment’ through community cohesion, regeneration and community-oriented schools, had attracted significant critique within research literature. Examining New Labour’s policy paradigm, and the schooling practices promoted by their policy ensemble, many had demonstrated the tendency to privilege middle-class modes of educational agency. Concurrently, despite being the specific target of a proliferation of policies, working-class children and parents have been routinely constructed as perpetually lacking. Spurred on by this, when starting my research, my primary interest lay in uncovering – and better understanding – the history of working-class educational agency that had appeared to be lost in dominant policy discourse. Interestingly, whilst completing my research, New Labour came to the end of its 13-year rule, and in swept the Conservative/Liberal Democratic Coalition, bringing with it a new (though perhaps not radically reformulated) reiteration of community ‘empowerment’. With David Cameron’s heralding of the ‘Big Society’ and Michael Gove’s ‘free schools’, community participation appears to continue to have significant rhetorical utility in contemporary education policy. Continue Reading

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Accessions: Researching, Designing Higher Education

My piece ‘Accessions: Researching, Designing Higher Education’ in Gender and Education (23:6) reports on the experiences, effects and (dis)engagements in working alongside designers – as part of a research-design team – to foster a more ‘public sociology’. These are questions, conceptual and methodological, that I have been interested in for some time: this piece, as with other work, asks who becomes the proper subject for (non)academic attention? Questions are raised about the place of a ‘public sociology’ as part of a ‘city publics’ and ‘engaged university’ where understanding local disseminations and disparities is important in considering where different users, interviewees and indeed researchers are coming from. It asks where are we coming from? Why does this matter and how can this be operationalised as a politicised practice (rather than personalized, individualized pain); Where are we going as the direction of Higher Education stalls and changes? When we ‘travel’ in academia do we only credentialise ourselves, becoming more distant from the very audiences, users, and publics which enable our mobility? ‘Accessions’ alludes to academic hierarchies, elitism and ‘becoming’ in and out of the university setting, and continues a concern reflected in a forthcoming Sociological Research Online piece: ‘Placing Research: ‘City Publics’ and the ‘Public Sociologist’ (2011, with Michelle Addison) and a current European Societies piece ‘International and Widening Participation Students’ Experience of Higher Education, UK’ (2011, with Tracy Scurry). Continue Reading

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