Democratic Agency and Neo-Liberal Responsibilisation: Leadership in Academy Schools

Smith, Julie C. (2017) Democratic Agency and Neo-Liberal Responsibilisation: Leadership in Academy Schools. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Purpose: To explore how much democratic agency Academy Leaders have in practice in the field of education to work democratically in the public interest with those within their own academies and others within wider educational networks, and from this understanding inform the United Kingdom government’s education reform agenda Design: This qualitative research involves semi-structured interviews with 10 Academy Leaders who are directly involved in leadership in academies. Findings: At a conjuncture that is characterised by uncertainty and precariousness, Academy Leaders take up different positions on a spectrum of possible positions in the field of education in response to what is interpreted as the United Kingdom’s neo-liberal education reform agenda. The findings highlight that Academy Leaders who have a high commitment to neo-liberal responsibilisation of self feel they have agency to input into the government’s education reform agenda but Academy Leaders who oppose neo-liberalism, show a low commitment to neo-liberal responsibilisation of self and instead show a high commitment to democracy or public values, feel that they are given very little, if any, democratic agency. Contribution: This thesis makes a contribution to the existing body of knowledge in education by building on the work of Gunter (Gunter, 2001, Woods et al., 2007, Gunter et al., 2008, Gunter, 2011, Gunter, 2016) and Courtney (2014, 2015a, 2015b, 2015c and 2017), and using Bourdieu’s thinking tools to analyse Academy leaders’ habitus and the agency that they feel they have in practice in the field of education, to create new understanding of the emerging issues of democratic agency and neo-liberal responsibilisation of self, as discussed by Keddie (2015,2018), from the perspective of Academy Leaders at a particular conjuncture in the formation of academy schools in England. It does this by encouraging Academy Leaders to articulate how they respond to the United Kingdom government’s education reform agenda and the way that they carry out their work and analyses this in terms of: types of response to change and the extent to which Academy Leaders have a Commitment to Democracy or Public Values and/or a Commitment to Responsibilisation of self.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Education reform, United Kingdom; Academy leaders; School leadership
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2018 10:20
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:50

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