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Title: Contested images of the school : a post-Marxist analysis of education policy under the New Labour government and the divergent approaches to its implementation in English secondary schools
Author: Wright, A. J.
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis provides a detailed and contextualised account of the New Labour government's education policy from a post-Marxist perspective, with the aim of understanding the complexities and paradoxes of policy implementation in secondary schools in the UK during this period. While Marxism has remained a dominant critical app roach to the study of education, J argue that its ontological commitment to economic necessity limits the scope of its critical and explanatory power. Other approaches, such as functionalism and interpretivism, also contain theoretical shortfalls that prevent a comprehensive understanding of education. Drawing on poststructuralist theory to rearticulate key concepts in Marxism, I show how a post-Marxist approach can provide a deeper critical explanation of the pol icy process and the micropolitical tensions that affect the way policy is implemented within the school. My empirical investigation identifies a particular tension in New Labour's education policy discourse, between two seemingly incompatible strands: neoliberal modernisation and social cohesion . Through a genealogical analysis of the policy discourse, I reveal how this tension emerged and became articulated in the policy texts and speeches of the New Labour government. Moreover, I reveal how this tension developed as New Labour attempted to consolidate the previous Conservative government's neoliberal agenda while also renegotiating a historical schism in the labour Party between the discourses of 'gradualism' and 'radicalism'. In order to understand how New labour's pol icy discourse, and the tensions existing within it, played out in schools, I undertake in-depth research in two secondary schools in England . This research, which included open interviews, focus groups and Q-method analysis with staff and • pupils, is collated into two case studies. These case studies identify the specific micro political logics that led the schools to develop radically different approaches to implementing policy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available