Performative Cultures: changing professional roles, responsibilities and relationships of teachers and teaching assistants

GARLAND, Irene and GARLAND, Paul (2012). Performative Cultures: changing professional roles, responsibilities and relationships of teachers and teaching assistants. In: Performativity in UK Education: Ethnographic Cases of its Effects, Agency and Reconstructions. Stroud, E&E Publishing.

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This chapter explores the extent to which teacher and teaching assistant (TA) roles and identities have been 'formed' through performativity discourse and practices with reference to an ethnographic study of two primary schools in the North of England. Against the backdrop of school workforce reform policy in England, we attempt to explain both accommodation and resistance to performativity cultures in relation to externally imposed restructuring of professional roles. Empirical data is drawn from a study (Garland, 2008) of the roles of teachers and TAs in primary school settings with observed practices analysed in relation to policy discourse . Our view is that Foucauldian analysis of policy discourse is metaphorically powerful but can mask the 'varied and chaotic nature of the actual experience and outcomes' (Dwyer, 1995: 475). Ball (1994) distinguishes between policy as text (drawing attention to the agency of individuals to contest, change, negotiate policy) and policy as discourse (emphasising structural, external influences or determinants). Similarly, Holstein and Gubrium (2005) distinguish between ‘discourse-in-practice’ (Foucault's 'regimes of truth' – 1979) and discursive practice (with its emphasis on the interactive processes in real time that produce the ‘structures’). Likewise we are interested in the tension between structuring forces (policy interventions, discourses, performativity regimes) and local practices indicating space for agency (local solutions, accommodations, compromises). We also draw upon Bourdieu's notion of habitus and his discussion of the structuring force of social constructions such as the family (Bourdieu, 1990) to consider how actors can both absorb performativity but also be a source of resistance to such externally imposed discursive practices when these conflict with other practices that seem more ‘natural’ to those actors.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Depositing User: Paul Garland
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2012 15:05
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 23:30

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