Questioning local particularities in an era of the suspect mantra of global «excellence» education branding

Catriona Cunningham, Christopher Holligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study takes a hybrid and deliberately tentative approach to educational research. It incorporates a literary, not social scientific, reading of the verbal analytics of the student teachers that will be the first generation of a potentially radically new and different curriculum in Scotland. They are also the first generation of their (working-class) families to attend university. Through close observation, combined with ethnographic textual analysis, in our empirical-philosophically inclined study we aim to situate these students within a dominant imaginary of a global context and to contest the extent they are personally ready to embrace Bauman’s fluid, mobile world of the 21st century. Given the reluctance of contemporary academia to judge other lifestyles, we aspire to a position of intellectual courage where, by exploring their personal constructions regarding the meanings of their own cultural and leisure pursuits, we necessarily judge. Our purpose is not to label or judge (without justification) but rather interrogate, and potentially celebrate how these student teachers relate to their own – and an imagined wider – world. We believe that the cultural capital inhering in the cultural activities they consume will inevitably condition the school’s hidden curriculum through which a sense of place, socially and geographically speaking, will be conveyed to children. In reassuringly sociological nomenclature, our paper can then be understood as engaging with the subject of the reproduction of society through the mechanism of state schooling affiliating itself with neo-liberal values which are anathema to certain conceptions of education as personal liberation. We are arguing that the education of teachers ought to attend to a greater extent to their inherited «life worlds».
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-44
JournalEducação, Sociedade & Culturas
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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