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Identity, Agency and Social Institutions in Educational Ethnography

ISBN: 978-0-76231-144-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-297-9

ISSN: 1529-210X

Publication date: 30 December 2004


Dennis Beach is a Reader in Education Sciences (Pedagogy) who is currently employed at the Department of Education, Göteborg University. His research interests lie in the field of the sociology of education, the sociology of teachers’ work and the problems of education change. He has authored or co-authored three books and a number of articles and chapters in these subject fields and has also supervised several Ph.D. projects. At present he is head of two major national research projects in the fields mentioned, both of which are financed by the Swedish Research Council, and collaborates in two large European projects.Marie Carlson Ph.D. in sociology 2002, Göteborg University, Sweden. Her earlier studies were in social anthropology, Swedish for immigrants, and ethnicity and migration. Her main research interests are cultural studies and sociology of education. The wider project of which this chapter is a part focuses on Swedish language courses for immigrants as a social and cultural construction in the Swedish knowledge arena. It deals with questions regarding the impact of social and cultural practices on conceptions of knowledge and education. (e.g. Carlson, M., 2001) “Swedish Language Courses for Immigrants – Integration or Discrimination?” in Ethnography and Education Policy (Ed.) Geoffrey Walford, Oxford: Elsevier.) Marie Carlson also lectures on courses in ethnicity and migration, and is tutoring within the fields of “Language & culture,” “Islam” (Muslim women) and “Ethnicity.” Currently she is engaged in a project “Competing Ideas in the Renewal of SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) – An Investigation of Discursive Practices in SFI-education during Re-structuring” (financed by The Swedish Research Council). The project is carried out in corporation with Dennis Beach, Department of Education, Göteborg University.Marianne Dovemark was formerly a teacher at a comprehensive school in Sweden for over 20 years. She is in the process of completing a Ph.D. (in Educational Sciences) supervised by Dennis Beach and is currently employed as a lecturer on the pre-service Teacher Education Programme at the University College of Borås where she also does researches in the field of Sociology of Education. Her research stresses the new aims of comprehensive education in a re-structured school in Sweden with a special focus on the possibility of free choice within the school.Caroline Hudson is a Research Consultant whose company is called Real Educational Research Ltd. Caroline’s research interests encompass adult learning, literacy, family structure, offending and education, and issues related to social exclusion. Caroline is currently evaluating three literacy, language (ESOL) and numeracy developmental projects in the National Health Service (NHS), with the National Research and Development Centre (NRDC) for adult literacy and numeracy. She is also researching the impact of use of a PC tablet on the writing skills of young people who offend, for Ecotec Research and Consultancy on behalf of the Youth Justice Board (YJB). Caroline has worked as Basic Skills Advisor in the Home Office National Probation Directorate, and as an English teacher both in the United Kingdom and abroad.Bob Jeffrey has worked with Professor Peter Woods and Geoff Troman at the Open University since the early 1990s researching the effects of reform on teachers and young people in primary schools using ethnographic methods. In particular he has focused on the how the reforms have affected the creativity of teachers and more recently he has concerned himself with young people’s perspectives of their learning experiences in a project involving ten European countries. He has also contributed to the development of Ethnography in Education by publishing regular articles on methodology, editing books in this area, co-ordinating an international email list as well the Ethnography network for the European Educational Research Association and is currently co-organising the annual Oxford Conference for Ethnography in Education.Janet Donnell Johnson is a clinical lecturer and doctoral student in English Education at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, USA. A former English teacher at an alternative high school, her research interests include the interconnectedness of student identity, agency, and resistance, and literacy as a social practice in and out of classrooms. Janet is currently researching and writing a critical qualitative study based on how non-mainstream students use language to take up certain subject positions and how those positionings create opportunities for literacy learning in and out of school. In her role as clinical lecturer, she teaches writing, methods of teaching English, and coordinates partnerships between Indiana University’s English Department, Language Education Department, and teachers in the schools. She also works closely with secondary and college teachers on incorporating critical literacy and teacher research in their classrooms.Jongi “Mdumane” Klaas is currently completing a Ph.D. in Education at the University of Cambridge. The study examines the perceptions and experiences of learners and teachers vis-à-vis the processes of racial integration in two South African secondary schools. Jongi obtained a Bachelor of Pedagogics degree majoring in English Literature and History at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. He taught History for two years at Gwaba Combined School in South Africa before taking a Fulbright Scholarship to study a Masters degree in Comparative Education at the University of Oklahoma, USA. Jongi is married to Nocwaka Sinovuyo Klaas.Jerry Lipka is a full professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He has worked in cross-cultural education for the past 22 years. During this time, he has developed a long-term relationship with a group of Yup’ik Eskimo teachers and elders. This collaborative relationship has resulted in numerous publications. Most recently, this work has developed a culturally-based math curriculum; research on its effectiveness has shown that rural Yup’ik Eskimo students outperform their counterparts in math understanding.Gerry Mitchell is a Research Student at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion and member of the Social Policy Department at the London School of Economics. She is in the final year of an ESRC funded Ph.D. researching the New Deal for Young People’s Voluntary Sector Option in London. The work is divided into three: It focuses on methodology – what is gained from applying ethnographic methods to social policy evaluations? Secondly, it analyses delivery of the New Deal at ground level and lastly explores the construction of identities around work in the narratives of young unemployed people. Recent Publications: “Choice, Volunteering and Employability: Evaluating Delivery of the New Deal for Young People’s Voluntary Sector Option” Benefits (2003), 11(2), 105–111.Farzaneh Moinian was formerly a teacher at different comprehensive schools in Iran and in Sweden. She is a doctoral student in pedagogy at Stockholm Institution of Education. Her research areas are linked to ethnography in education as well as the exploration of childhood in its historical and current manifestations. Her doctoral project includes children’s perception of morality, self-concept, values and goals as well as children’s life world from their own point of view. Her project would draw on a range of theoretical perspectives from inter-disciplinary Childhood studies, and would employ mainly qualitative methodologies, including ethnography. The various research projects carried out by Farzaneh Moinian focus on understanding the ways in which children percept and interpret their lives as well as how they communicate with other children about it.Ruth Soenen is research assistant (Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders) at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of The Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Her work concerns ethnographic research into everyday relationships in urban settings. Research was carried out in schools and in collective city spaces (e.g. public transport and shops) within the reflection on intercultural matters, learning, community and public domain. She wrote a book in Dutch on intercultural education, research reports for Flemish Government (Educational and City Policy) and made several contributions in leading Flemish journals and books. In English she made a contribution to “Debates and Developments in Ethnographic Methodology. Studies in Educational Ethnography Vol. 6.” Other English publications are forthcoming.Geoff Troman is a Research Fellow and Associate Lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Language Studies at the Open University. Geoff taught science for twenty years in secondary modern, comprehensive and middle schools before moving into Higher Education in 1989. Throughout his time in schools he carried out research as a teacher researcher. His Ph.D. research was an ethnography of primary school restructuring. He is currently conducting research on teachers’ work and lives and focusing on the educational policy context and primary teacher identity, commitment and career in performative cultures of schooling. Among other publications in the areas of qualitative methods, school ethnography and policy sociology, he co-authored Primary Teachers’ Stress with Peter Woods and Restructuring Schools, Reconstructing Teachers, with Peter Woods, Bob Jeffrey and Mari Boyle. Geoff is a joint co-ordinator of the Ethnography Network for the European Educational Research Association and is currently co-organising the annual Oxford Conference for Ethnography in Education.Geoffrey Walford is Professor of Education Policy and a Fellow of Green College at the University of Oxford. His books include: Life in Public Schools (Methuen, 1986), Restructuring Universities: Politics and power in the management of change (Croom Helm, 1987), Privatization and Privilege in Education (Routledge, 1990), City Technology College (Open University Press, 1991, with Henry Miller), Doing Educational Research (Routledge, editor, 1991), Choice and Equity in Education (Cassell, 1994), Doing Research about Education (Falmer (Ed.), 1998), Policy, Politics and Education – sponsored grant- maintained schools and religious diversity (Ashgate, 2000) and Doing Qualitative Educational Research (Continuum, 2001). Within the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Oxford, he is Director of Graduate Studies (Higher Degrees), has responsibility for the M.Sc. in Educational Research Methodology course, and supervises doctoral research students. He was Joint Editor of the British Journal of Educational Studies from 1999 to 2002, and has been Editor of the Oxford Review of Education from January 2004. His research foci are the relationships between central government policy and local processes of implementation, private schools, choice of schools, religiously-based schools and qualitative research methodology.Joan Parker Webster is an assistant professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where she teaches courses in multicultural and cross-cultural education, children’s and young adult literature, reading theory and language acquisition, and ethnographic research methodology. She has researched and published in the areas of literacy, language acquisition, indigenous language revitalisation issues and ethnographic methodology. Parker Webster is presently working with Yup’ik Eskimo teachers and elders on a literacy-based curriculum project using traditional Yup’ik stories.Anita Wilson is a Research Associate with Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, U.K. She has spent almost 14 years undertaking ethnographic and collaborative inquiry with people in prison. Between 2001 and 2003 she held a Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the National Academy of Education, New York which she used to introduce her theory, method and approach to prisoners in America, making a transatlantic comparison of how policy and practice impacts on prison literacies as they are “lived out” on a day to day basis. Her doctoral thesis Reading a Library – Writing a Book: The Significance of Literacies for the Prison Community proposes that people in prison live in a “third space” community, socialising the institutional in order to retain their sense of personal rather than prison identity. She maintains a strong focus on the ethics of working in constrained and sensitive settings and considers issues around exploitation, equity and advocacy to be central to ethnographic work. She has published widely and shares her work with policy-makers, practitioners and prisoners around the world. At present she is undertaking research funded by the National Research and Development Centre which investigates the importance of education to the lives of young offenders.


(2004), "ABOUT THE AUTHORS", Troman, G., Jeffrey, B. and Walford, G. (Ed.) Identity, Agency and Social Institutions in Educational Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 223-227. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1529-210X(04)10015-6

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