Evidence suggests that wider sociological structures, which embody particular values and ways of relating, can make sustainable living and working problematic. This paper introduces ideology critique, an innovative methodological perspective crossing the fields of theology, cultural studies and politics, to examine and disturb the subtle and hidden ‘spirit’ which is evoked when we engage with everyday objects and interactions. Such a ‘spirit’, or ideology, embodies particular models of how humans relate to other humans, animals, and the planet more broadly. This paper aims, firstly, to document and demonstrate the subtleties of how the hidden ‘spirit’ can render attempts at sustainable working futile in the context of education, and then, second, to demonstrate how it can be used to intentionally evoke alternative ‘spirits’ which afford new relationality amongst humans, animals and the planet. In a broader sense, therefore, this paper explores how concepts and political commitments from the humanities, such as ideology critique and ‘spirit’, can help (1) analyse how wider social structures shape our values and beliefs in relation to sustainable learning, living and working, (2) explain how these behaviours are held in place over time, and (3) provoke insight into how we might seek to disrupt and change such persistent social structures.
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