Gender and the marketisation of further education : a study of two colleges
This thesis investigates the marketisation of further education (FE) in England in the 1990s with specific reference to gender. A major restructuring of the public sector has taken place in recent years, and colleges have undergone significant changes, with reductions in funding, an increased emphasis on efficiency and accountability, and a new business ethos all evident. This research was conducted in two inner-city colleges m 1997-98, usmg a combination of in-depth interviews, observation, and the examination of documents. The main aim was to identify dominant discourses and practices in the newly corporatised colleges, and to investigate the impact of these on gendered (raced, and classed) power relations. The thesis explores issues of funding and quality, new managerialism, and the restructuring of staffing, spaces and spatial relations. The importance given to new technological developments and their perceived role in the reconstruction of learning, learner and professional identities are also discussed. A further chapter explores the attention paid to equality concerns. A Foucauldian concept of discourse is used to examine the knowledges and perspectives that are legitimised or suppressed within the new FE, and the research draws upon feminist and other critical analyses of marketisation, organisation and management. It is argued that the Cartesian mind-body dichotomy, with its reification of 'rationality' and gendered implications, can be 3 seen to underpin the dominant discourses of the market, managerialism and new learning technologies in further education, and the thesis explores the processes by which gendered identities and power relations are maintained and reconstructed in this context. Differences within and between the colleges are discussed, and oppositional discourses which assert professional educational values, an ethic of care and a commitment to challenging inequalities are all identified. The thesis concludes with an analysis of resistance, and an account of more recent policy developments in the sector.