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Critical ethnography for school and community renewal around social class differences affecting learning

Smyth, J., Angus, L., Down, B.ORCID: 0000-0003-4843-0563 and McInerney, P. (2006) Critical ethnography for school and community renewal around social class differences affecting learning. Learning Communities: international journal of adult and vocational learning, 3 . pp. 121-152.

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Understanding and exploring complex and protracted social questions requires sophisticated investigative approaches. In this article we intend looking at a research approach capable of providing a better understanding of what is going on in schools, students and communities in "exceptionally challenging contexts" (Harris et al., 2006)- code for schools and communities that have as a result of wider social forces, been historically placed in situations of disadvantage. Ball (2006) summarized neatly the urgent necessity for research approaches that are theoretically tuned into being able to explore and explain what Bourdieu, Chamboredon & Passeron (1991) describe as a world that is "complicated, confused, impure [and] uncertain" (p. 259). Ball's (2006) claim is for a research approach with the "conceptual robustness" to move us beyond the moribund situation we currently find ourselves in. As he put it: "Much of what passes for educational research is hasty, presumptive, and immodest" (p.9). What is desperately needed are theoretically adroit research approaches capable of "challenging conservative orthodoxies and closure, parsimony, and simplicity", that retain "some sense of the obduracy and complexity of the social", and that don't continually "overestimate our grasp on the social world and underestimate our role in its management" (p. 9). Our particular interest here is in research orientations that are up to the task of uncovering what we know to be something extremely complex and controversial going on in schools, namely how it is that schools work in ways in which "class is achieved and maintained and enacted rather than something that just is!" (Ball, 2006, p. 8).

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Centre for Research and Learning in Regional Australia
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