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SEMINAR: Anthropology / Sociology Seminar Series

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Today's date is Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Anthropology / Sociology Seminar Series : Practicing Autonomy in a Local Eduscape: Schools, Families and Choice Other events...
In 1987 the Western Australian State Government released a policy document titled Better Schools in Western Australia: A Programme for Improvement in which it was contended that ‘Whereas once it was believed that a good system creates good schools, it is now recognised that good schools make a good system’ (Ministry of Education 1987:5). In line with the devolutionary thinking it reflected, Better School’s advocated school-based decision-making as a means of being more responsive to local community needs and enabling schools to better meet the educational requirements of individual students (Ministry of Education 1987:5). As was the case in many parts of the Western World, devolutionary reform was part of a broader policy regime opening up possibilities for individual choice, shifting responsibility for outcomes in key systems to individual units of organisation and the so-called “clients” of these organisations, transforming the modern citizen as ‘an active agent in his or her government’, as Rose (1993) puts it. Neoliberalism is often evoked as an umbrella term to capture the socio-political ideals underpinning these changes in social policy. It is also helpful to place this policy formation under a broader cultural canopy pointing to a trend away from broad communal activity to more individualised practices – reflexive, “second modernity” as some commentators refer to it.

This paper will consider the interweaving of schools and families as the individuals within each institution articulate and enact their various desires and needs. Embracing a Bourdieusian commitment to understanding social action as a practice driven by cultured, structured agency, I draw upon various forms of data accumulated over nearly two decades of research in and around schools, alongside some recent developments in the local political arena, to analyse the social effects and implications of the practice of school choice and “independent government schools” in Western Australia. The focal points shift from families to localised fieldsites and further afield into regional and state-wide events and trends to contemplate the ways in which the allure of choice and autonomy implicate many a citizen and agent of the state in unequal systems that do not necessarily address the problems they are aimed at ameliorating. In other words, good schools and empowered parents do not necessarily make good systems.
Speaker(s) Martin Forsey
Location Social Sciences Building Room 2204
Contact Alka Sabharwal <[email protected]>
Start Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:30
End Fri, 21 Sep 2018 15:30
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Fri, 21 Sep 2018 09:41
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