Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
JS_RN11_RN13_07: Creating 'community' or social division?
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Lynn Jamieson, University of Edinburgh
Session Chair: Julie Brownlie, University of Edinburgh
Location: BS.4.04A
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Fourth Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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“It’s a tiger instinct - that’s my baby!”: Responsibility, Emotion and Affect in Families’ Educational Activism.

Nathan Fretwell, John Barker

Middlesex University, United Kingdom

In this paper we present emergent findings from a qualitative study investigating the involvement of families in grassroots struggles over education. Parent-led educational activism is a growing phenomenon in the UK. From local conflicts over the academisation of schools to national campaigns targeting budget cuts, high-stakes testing, and threats to SEND provision, families have been at the vanguard of battles over education. Drawing on data collected through extensive semi-structured interviews with parents involved in campaigns against academisation in East London and Essex, we offer insights into the under-explored field of family activism in education. Our focus here is on the emotional spurs prompting parents’ resistance to powerful state institutions and actors and the affective commitments sustaining their activism (Jaspers, 2018). Whilst powerfully rooted in the intimate, emotional dynamics of parental love and responsibility, these deeply personal (e)motives create new social horizons (Ahmed, 2018). Indeed, we argue that parental responsibility transcends the simplistic binary between self-interest and altruism to forge wider solidarities. As keenly tuned to the future as the present, doing what is right for the family translates into doing what is right for the community; for the children to come. The vigour of parents’ accounts, their feelings of anger and frustration, their narratives of exclusion and betrayal, alongside their concern for their children and the communities in which they live, help deepen our understanding of family-state interactions, grassroots political activism and the sociality of emotion, whilst also attesting to the power and promise of an emotional politics.

Keywords: family activism; emotions; education; community, academisation

Talking Politics or Biting your Tongue?: Brexit, Emotions and Everyday Family Life

Katherine Davies

The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

This paper explores how the UKs 2016 referendum on the European Union has been experienced within family relationships. Drawing upon data generated as part of a qualitative interview-based study funded by the British Academy between 2017 and 2019, the paper outlines the silences, arguments, debates and conversations that people are having in their everyday family relationships in reaction to Brexit and the political debates surrounding it. British media outlets have commonly described the UK as a nation divided by Brexit, yet we know very little about what this means for people in their everyday lives and relationships. This paper unpacks the trope of ‘divided Britain’ by considering how Brexit is lived in everyday family relationships. Interviews with both ‘remainers’ and ‘leavers’ from different generations reveal that, despite often disagreeing with their family members about Brexit, people expend a great deal of effort and skill in avoiding divisions within their family. Building on Hochschild’s (1993) concept of ‘emotion work’, the paper demonstrates different practices of ‘talking politics’ in families, pointing to the work that goes into avoiding conflict and paying particular attention to the role of ‘biting your tongue’ when discussing Brexit with loved ones.

“I Don’t Mind They Are Friends But I Wouldn’t Let My Child Go To Their House”: Emotions and Subjectivity Negotiation among Families in Socially Diverse Schools

Manuela Mendoza Horvitz

UCL - Institute of Education, United Kingdom

Drawing on a global context of tension between national ideologies driven by democratic values and the challenges posed by increasing levels of social diversity, the paper reflects on the ways social diversity in a school may shape particular subjective dispositions to otherness on students and parents. The paper discusses literature around school mix (the school’s social diversity) and school mixing (the interactions between students/parents from different backgrounds), and their possible relationship with the development of democratic and inclusive attitudes. Studies addressing the possible effects of school mix on democratic learning argue that both inclusive and exclusionary dispositions may emerge depending on the form heterogeneity takes, particularly depending on whether there is school mixing or not. Based on Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and further sociological developments of it (e.g. Bottero, 2010; Decoteau, 2016; Lahire, 2003; Reay et al., 2009; Sweetman, 2003; Vincent et al., 2018), the paper outlines an analytical sociological framework to conceptualise the possibilities for subjectivity to change and, eventually, for inclusive dispositions to emerge through the experience of social difference. This discussion will be illustrated by the case under study in an ethnographically oriented research about friendship in socially diverse schools: the Chilean educational system. Chile is a key country to observe both an exceptional socioeconomic educational segregation (the most segregated among OECD countries) and an unusual process of educational reforms attempting to promote inclusion and diversity of school populations, which renders it a privileged lab scenario to explore potentialities to take advantage of such a diversity.

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