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The offence of theory

MacLure, Maggie (2010) The offence of theory. Journal of Education Policy, 25 (2). pp. 277-286. ISSN 1464-5106

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Theory frequently offends. The paper argues that this is its strength: the value of theory lies in its power to get in the way. Theory is needed to block the reproduction of banality, and thereby, hopefully, open new possibilities for thinking and doing. However, I also note that theory has become somewhat disengaged from its objects, diminishing its power of productive interference. I argue for 'exemplary' practices, in which theory proliferates from examples. Caught in the minutiae of the example, yet also open to unexpected connections, theory might develop more productive ways of offending. Or to put it differently, of producing wonder.

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