“Hey you there!” An autoethnographic exploration of the impact of neoliberalism on the role and identity of the primary school teacher
AuthorsDuncan, Susan J.
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AbstractThe purpose of this thesis is to explore the agency of teachers in the development of their professional identities. The research is grounded in my lived experience as a primary teacher, senior leader and mentor of trainee and newly qualified teachers during the tumultuous three decades that followed the 1988 Education Reform Act. It is the result of an extensive period of research into and reflection on my experiences, actions and compromises during this period. Teacher identity is often seen as a dynamic and fluid process; one that is influenced by a range of factors and contexts (Beijaard et al, 2004). I conceptualise the influence and effects of neoliberalism as an example of a dominant ideology on the role and identity of primary teachers through the utilisation of Althusser’s theory of the interpellation of the subject by ideology (1971/2001). Although, Althusser saw schools as the major ideological state apparatus (ISA), he did not provide any detail on what takes place within the classroom (Macris, 2014). This research applies Althusserian theory to the experiences of teachers and explores the extent to which ideology can be seen as constituting teacher-subjects who in turn take up their interpellative roles within the educational ISA. An autoethnographic methodology is adopted making the author’s voice and experience central to the research while also conducting dialogue with professionals at the start of their careers. Data, gathered from a wide range of sources, are presented in the form of a series of vignettes focussing on three main areas which emerged from analysis - centralised curriculum control, Ofsted and performativity. From this emerge questions about the scope and nature of agency exercised by teachers during the course of their professional and personal development which are explored through an Althusserian lens. The findings show how ideology exisiting in the material practices of twenty first century schools have shaped the way teachers construct and communicate their professional identity but also that there exists within this the possibility of retaining personal values and convictions and using the two-way process on subjection in ever changing and innovative ways.
CitationDuncan, S. J. (2021). “Hey you there!” An autoethnographic exploration of the impact of neoliberalism on the role and identity of the primary school teacher [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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