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A critical investigation of the relationship between masculinity, social justice, religious education and the neo-liberal discourse

Francis Farrell (Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 2 September 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically investigate a group of year 11 boys’ relationship to RE in response to debates about boys’ underachievement in RE.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative data were collected through observations and semi-structured interviews. Data analysis draws upon pro-feminist and poststructuralist theories of the gendered subject.

Findings

The data presented in this paper reveals how RE functioned as a political space for the exploration of social justice issues that formed part of the boys’ daily experiences, serving to increase awareness and understanding of diversity.

Research limitations/implications

At a time of curriculum change where RE has been marginalised by exclusion from the DfE's English Baccalaureate this paper also seeks to contribute to debates about education for social justice through critical, pluralistic RE within a neo-liberal policy context.

Practical implications

RE is shown to be a potent educational resource for challenging pupils’ negative social practices and producing more reflexive masculine subjects.

Social implications

The contribution of RE to ensuring greater understanding and dialogue requires reassertion and protection within the curriculum.

Originality/value

The data presented shows that where RE is taken up by masculine subjects it offers an alternative discourse with potential to create community cohesion and interfaith dialogue.

Keywords

Citation

Farrell, F. (2014), "A critical investigation of the relationship between masculinity, social justice, religious education and the neo-liberal discourse", Education + Training, Vol. 56 No. 7, pp. 650-662. https://doi.org/10.1108/ET-07-2014-0082

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited