Knowledge, Policy and Practice in Education and the Struggle for Social Justice

Essays Inspired by the Work of Geoff Whitty

Edited by Andrew Brown and Emma Wisby

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ISBN: 9781782773054

Publication: April 01, 2020

For 50 years, educator and sociologist Geoff Whitty resolutely pursued social justice through education, first as a classroom teacher and ultimately as the Director of the Institute of Education in London.

The essays in this volume - written by some of the most influential authors in the sociology of education and critical policy studies - take Whitty’s work as the starting point from which to examine key contemporary issues in education and the challenges to social justice that they present. Set within three themes of knowledge, policy and practice in education, the chapters tackle the issues of defining and accessing ‘legitimate’ knowledge, the changing nature of education policy under neoliberalism and globalization, and the reshaping of teacher workplaces and professionalism – as well as attempts to realize more emancipatory practice. Whitty’s scholarship on what constitutes quality and impact in educational research is also explored.

Together, the essays open a window on a life in the sociology of education, the scholarly community of which it was part, and the facets of education policy, practice and research that they continue to reveal and challenge in pursuit of social justice. They celebrate Whitty as one of the foremost sociologists of education of his generation, but also as a friend and colleague. And they highlight the continued relevance of his contribution to those seeking to promote fairer and more inclusive education systems.

Andrew Brown is Emeritus Professor of Education and Society at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and Senior International Research Advisor at the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, University of Newcastle, Australia. He is a sociologist of education with interests in the process of research capacity and capability building, and the relationship between everyday professional and academic discourse and practice. He was founding Director (Research) at the Institute for Adult Learning, Singapore. He served as Interim Director of the IOE and UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (London). Before joining the IOE as a teacher educator in 1987, he taught in primary and secondary schools in London.

Emma Wisby is Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the UCL Institute of Education. Prior to that she was Committee Specialist to the House of Commons education select committee and a researcher in the field of education policy, during which time she undertook a review of school councils and pupil voice for the UK government. Following a PhD at the University of Sheffield, which examined the post-Dearing shift to standards-based quality assurance in the UK higher education sector, she spent her early career conducting consultancy research for government departments and their agencies across schools, further education and teacher education policy.

Figures and tables, Acknowledgements, Acronyms, Preface, Contributors


1. Social mobilizations and official knowledge – MICHAEL W. APPLE
2. Sex, sexuality and HIV: 'Education', in the broadest sense of the word – PETER AGGLETON
3. Education for inclusion or exclusion: Representation of ethnic minorities in Chinese mainstream history textbooks – YAN FEI
4. Social theory, biological sciences and the sociology of knowledge in education – DEBORAH YOUDELL and MARTIN R. LINDLEY
5. Geoff Whitty: Student, friend and colleague; some personal reflections – MICHAEL YOUNG

6. The neoliberalization of the state, the processes of ‘fragmentation’ and the research implications of the new political terrain of English schooling – STEPHEN J. BALL and RICHARD BOWE
7. The White bones of policy: Structure, agency and a vulture’s-eye view with critical race theory – DAVID GILLBORN
8. From bastion of class privilege to public benefactor: The remarkable repositioning of private schools – TONY EDWARDS and SALLY POWER
9. Pursuing racial justice within higher education: Is conflict inevitable? – NICOLA ROLLOCK
10. The policy sociology of Geoff Whitty: Current and emergent issues regarding education research in use – BOB LINGARD
11. Revolutions in educational policy: The vexed question of evidence and policy development – HUGH LAUDER

12. Why isn’t this empowering? The discursive positioning of teachers in efforts to improve teaching – JENNIFER GORE
13. Can teachers still be teachers? The near impossibility of humanity in the transactional workplace – SHARON GEWIRTZ and ALAN CRIBB
14. Contestation, contradiction and collaboration in equity and widening participation: in conversation with Geoff Whitty – PENNY JANE BURKE
15. Quality, impact and knowledge traditions in the study of education – JOHN FURLONG



'This book of essays is a moving and fitting tribute to the life and work of Geoff Whitty. Many of the chapters break new ground in their own right but together they offer an appropriate and original reflection on Whitty's considerable contribution to our understanding of education policy and educational research. The editors have done a superb job in garnering writing of great distinction and of considerable originality, making a very significant addition to the field of education studies and to various sub-sets of that field.'  

Ian Menter, Emeritus Professor of Teacher Education, University of Oxford, BERA President 2013-15


Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

300 Pages

2 B&W illustrations

Copyright: © 2020

ISBN: 9781782773054

Publication: April 01, 2020

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