Simpson, Katherine (2019) Education and the Working Class: Primary Teachers’ Perspectives on Education in a Former Mining Community. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis examines the role of education for working-class pupils at ‘Lillydown Primary’, a state school for 3-11 year olds, in a former mining community in South Yorkshire. Through examining teachers’ perceptions and practice, this critical ethnography engages with the complex ways in which pupils’ experiences of education are not only shaped by wider structures and relations in capitalist society, but also by historical class-based performances and codes. The thesis enhances our understanding of how historical transmissions materialise and affect pupils’ experiences of schooling and illustrates how particular values, relations, and performances, specific to the locale, are transmitted and retraditionalised across various spaces within the school, in often subtle and multiple ways.

The research draws on neo-Marxist analyses of education and society, and uses Avery Gordon’s notion of ‘social haunting’ to understand the socio-historical context in which schooling takes place. This, it is argued, provides a powerful way of conceptualising the educational experiences of children at Lillydown Primary, and those of working-class communities more broadly. Whilst the notion of social haunting provides the backdrop to the thesis, I argue that we must move beyond conceptualisations of social haunting as always registering the harm, the loss, and social injustice if we are to fully understand the interplay of class, education, and social change, and potentially transform experiences of schooling for the working class. A haunting, this thesis suggests, must also register the ‘goodness’ of our ghosts. We must reckon with and harness the potentiality of all facets of the ghosts of those we study – the loss, the social violence, and the goodness – to reimagine and transform the nature of schooling in contemporary capitalist society.

FINAL THESIS - Simpson, K.pdf - Accepted Version
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