British Academy/Leverhulme-funded Projects

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Project title Critical Analysis of the Higher Education Green and White Papers (2015-2016): Student Representation and Response

Award holder Dr Rille Raaper, School of Education, University of Durham

This project focused on the consultation processes leading to the recent Higher Education and Research Act 2017 in the UK. Guided by a Faircloughian critical discourse analysis, the project engaged with five students’ unions from England’s Russell Group universities and the National Union of Students, and analysed their written responses to the government’s Green Paper consultation in early 2016. In addition to documentary analysis, it conducted follow-up interviews with sabbatical officers from these unions. Both sources of discourse demonstrated the unions’ significant opposition to the reform. They were particularly concerned about further marketisation of higher education and enforcement of student identity as consumers. Interestingly, however, the findings also revealed a number of contradictions in participants’ discourses. For example, the sabbatical officers often returned to the advantages of existing and proposed consumer mechanisms, e.g. NSS and consumer law, to explain their work and engagement with the consultation process. This was particularly the case as the participants believed that most students they represent support the bill and further enforcement of consumer rights. In conclusion, the findings suggest that the work of (participating) students unions’ has become increasingly isolated in a consumerist environment and the left-wing views have started to clash with practices that rely on various consumer mechanisms rather than collective protest action. These consumer mechanisms allow sabbatical officers to argue for practical advantages (e.g. unmasked courses costs, printing and facilities) but they appear to result in very limited if any policy changes.

You can read a blog related to the project here.

Related publications 

Raaper, R. (2017). 'Peacekeepers’ and ‘machine factories’: tracing Graduate Teaching Assistant subjectivity in a neoliberalised university'. British Journal of Sociology of Education. doi: 10.1080/01425692.2017.1367269

Raaper, R. (2017). Tracing assessment policy discourses in neoliberalised higher education settings. Journal of Education Policy 32(3), 332-339.


Project title The researcher disposition as today’s mode of subjectivation: the case of parenting

Award holder Dr Naomi Hodgson, Liverpool Hope University, UK

In recent years, as governments have sought to compete globally, individuals have been governed in terms of the need to permanently invest in their learning needs. Recent research by the applicant has shown that this learning disposition has intensified into a researcher disposition. We need not only to permanently gain new skills but also to attend to which skills to develop and how to apply them. This relates not only to researchers in universities but also to the population in general, as we seek new ways to adapt to changing social and economic environments. This research will analyse how and in what ways this ‘researcher disposition’ shapes parenting today, looking in particular at how personal screen-based technologies present visualisations of, and devices for, managing ourselves as parents. The role of the visual in how we understand ourselves will then be challenged in relation to recent critical work in the field of educational philosophy that claims that experimental forms of the visual can overcome our established relationship to ourselves, that is, our subjectivity.

Related conference presentations

Hodgson, N., ‘Parenting and the digitization of brain-based responsibility’, keynote presentation, education, upbringing, and neuroscience conference, KU Leuven, Belgium, May 2018.
Ramaekers, S. and Hodgson, N., ‘Humans raising humans? Technology, community, and the depoliticization of parents’, PES Conference, Chicago, USA, March 2018.
Ramaekers, S. and Hodgson, N., Parenting apps and the disposition of the parent as a pedagogical figure, Parenting culture, childhood, and adult-child relations in the contemporary age conference, UCL Institute of Education, London, May 2018.
Hodgson, N., ‘The Researcher Disposition as Today’s Mode of Subjectivation: An Exploration of the Devices of Parenting’, Working Paper, INPE Conference, Warsaw, Poland, August 2016.

Related publications

Ramaekers, S. and Hodgson, N. (2018) ‘Educational transformation and the force of film: viewing Michael Haneke’s The Seventh Continent’, Philosophy of Education Society Yearbook 2016, ed. Natasha Levinson, Urbana-Champaign: Philosophy of Education Society.
Ramaekers, S. and Hodgson, N. (forthcoming) ‘Initiating children in language and world: Learning from Dogtooth’, Philosophy of Education Society Yearbook 2017, ed. Ann Chinnery, Urbana-Champaign: Philosophy of Education Society.