Philosophical assumptions about identity, being and belonging have, as is well know, historically been bound together; their classical nexus being Plato’s Socrates, who because of this figures as the first philosopher of the city. Especially during moments of crisis, the impulse, both philosophically and politically, even today, is to make abject those who appear not to conform to the appropriate ideal identity of what ought to be. In the first part of our paper we consider the philosophical logic of this pedagogy of the city and its cultural context and implications; and in the second part, we demonstrate this pedagogy of the city as a practice, using ethnographic data derived from a study of a homeless couple and their struggle to become a family amidst the homeless community within which they live.
This article reports the findings of a longitudinal study exploring the process of learning to teach modern languages in the changing landscape of teacher education. It employs a postmodern critical ethnographic methodology to examine the experiences of a group of student teachers over the course of a one-year postgraduate teacher education programme in England. The focus is on how experiences in university and in school encourage or discourage the development of creativity. The schools inspectorate, Ofsted, is critical of lifeless teaching which fails to inspire young people to learn languages. However, the pressures of ‘performative’ requirements act as a discouragement to creativity. The data indicates that whilst student teachers express a desire to be more creative, they find it difficult to implement their ideas in school. A post-structuralist analysis of Marx’s theory of alienation is employed to argue that the early formation of professional identity is a process of acquiescence to oppressive external structures over which individuals have no control. The study concludes that it is possible to create spaces where the temporary suspension of alienation can allow individuals to put life back into language learning.
Based on a recent inaugural lecture, this article presents a critical appreciation and analysis of the application of different research methodologies to selected social and educational research contexts. The analysis is set against the backdrop of an ontological question concerning the possibility of truth. Specifically, it seeks to explore the untenability of any notion of absolute truth in contemporary qualitative inquiry, and examine the corollary implications for determining the nature, role and status of research. It is argued that the ability to challenge convention offers both the possibility and productive capacity to unsettle dominant research methodologies, while also critiquing normative social and professional research practices. Utilising three contrasting methodological frameworks: Gadamerian hermeneutics; Foucauldian theory; and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory; the narrative follows a journey of personal development and shows how seemingly different and diverse theoretical perspectives can reveal critical new insights on contemporary social research issues and practices, cultures and communities.
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