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ERIC Number: EJ939454
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 13
ISSN: ISSN-0159-6306
Discursive Work for Educational Administrators: Tensions in Negotiating Partnerships
Fenwick, Tara J.
Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, v25 n2 p171-187 2004
This article draws on a case study of a school-university partnership negotiation to focus on the discursive practices at work. Two questions form the central focus of this article. Firstly, how do different discourses function in educational partnership negotiations? This highlights observations about which discourses are evident in individuals' language and actions, how these may be related to individuals' beliefs and social practices, and which tensions operate within and among particular discourses. The second question addresses implications of the case study: What does discursive analysis reveal about the work of educational administrators in conducting negotiations among different discursive communities? Employing methods of critical discourse analysis, narratives of various participants in the partnership negotiations--parents, teachers, university faculty, school and school district personnel--were analyzed. The discussion explores overlapping discursive communities, troubling discursive intersections, tensions within discourses, and the generation of resistant discourses; it then examines the discursive work of administrators within these movements. When educational administrators must negotiate differences among their constituent groups, which they are called upon to do regularly, they are doing discursive work. This is part of the "new work order," where the focus of learning is not children and schools, but knowledge distributed across lifelines, social practices and institutions: administrators must become adept at forming networks among multiple community interests and languages. As this article argues, whenever educational administrators find themselves reconciling individuals' different values, meanings or interests--arguably a fundamental dimension of much administrative activity--their success rests at least in part on their capacity to engage discursive work effectively. This work begins with critical awareness of discursive tensions at play, but also involves strategies of translating, spanning discourse communities and promoting discursive work. Particularly in situations where collaboration across differences is the objective, educational administrators are well served by an awareness of discursive dynamics and their own enmeshment and influence within those dynamics. (Contains 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Higher Education
Audience: Administrators
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada