DPR7: Cultures in Resistance

The 7th Conference of the Discourse, Power, Resistance Series

18– 20 March 2008
Manchester Metropolitan University , UK


James Avis
SEPD, University of Huddersfield, UK

Beyond Cultures of Resistance: the re-turn to class, economism, individualisation and Post Compulsory Education and Training

The paper examines processes of class formation in Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET). Initially, it considers the broader policy context in which PCET is placed, examining the model of class implicit within policy documents and New Labour thinking. It notes that class relations and patterns of inequality have deepened. Class as a structural feature of the social formation has been obscured as a result of individualisation and compounded by theorisations of Giddens and Beck. Whilst class may be obscured, it remains a salient feature of social relations. The personalisation of the curriculum and changes to 14-19 education are related to class formation as well as the on-going generation of inequality. The final sections of the paper explore current work that examines teaching and learning in the sector, suggesting that class needs to be placed in a pivotal position in such analyses. It concludes by arguing that a concern with social justice as well as one that seeks to interrupt processes of class formation necessitates a politicised practice that extends beyond the classroom to wider society. This requires analyses that stress the salience of class in education but also works with an expansive notion of practice that calls for a politicised understanding of PCET, one that moves beyond analyses rooted in cultures of resistance.