NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1096194
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0159-6306
Negotiating and Contesting "Success": Discourses of Aspiration in a UK Secondary School
Spohrer, Konstanze
Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, v37 n3 p411-425 2016
The need to "raise aspirations" among young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds has been prominent in UK policy debates over the last decade. This paper examines how this discourse is negotiated and contested by teachers and pupils in a Scottish secondary school. Interviews, group discussions and observations were analysed by drawing on Foucauldian discourse analysis. The analysis exposes contradictions and silences inherent in dominant discourses of aspiration, most notably the tension between the promise and the impossibility of "success" for all. It is argued that attempts to reconcile this tension by calling on young people to maximise individual "potential" through attitude change silence the social construction of "success" and "failure". The paper concludes with suggesting ways in which schools could embrace the contradictions underpinning dominant "raising aspiration" discourses and adopt a more critical-sociological approach in working with young people.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Scotland)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A