Negotiating and contesting ‘success’: Discourses of aspiration in a UK secondary school

Spohrer, Konstanze (2015) Negotiating and contesting ‘success’: Discourses of aspiration in a UK secondary school. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education. ISSN 1469-3739 (Online)

[img]
Preview
Text
07 Spohrer.20Apr15.pdf

Download (128kB) | Preview
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0159630...

Abstract

The need to ‘raise aspirations’ among young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds has been prominent in UK policy debates over the last decade. This paper examines how this discourse is negotiated and contested by teachers and pupils in a Scottish secondary school. Interviews, group discussions and observations were analysed by drawing on Foucauldian discourse analysis. The analysis exposes contradictions and silences inherent in dominant discourses of aspiration, most notably the tension between the promise and the impossibility of ‘success’ for all. It is argued that attempts to reconcile this tension by calling on young people to maximise individual ‘potential’ through attitude change silence the social construction of ‘success’ and ‘failure’. The paper concludes with suggesting ways in which schools could embrace the contradictions underpinning dominant ‘raising aspiration’ discourses and adopt a more critical-sociological approach in working with young people.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article submitted for consideration in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education [copyright Taylor & Francis]; Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education is available online at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/01596306.2015.1044423
Keywords: Aspirations; success; young people; discourse; education policy; Foucault
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Education Studies
Depositing User: Susan Blagbrough
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2016 16:04
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2016 01:15
URI: http://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/765

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item