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    'Non-servile virtuosi' in insubordinate spaces: school disaffection, refusal and resistance in a former English coalfield

    Bright, N. Geoffrey (2011) 'Non-servile virtuosi' in insubordinate spaces: school disaffection, refusal and resistance in a former English coalfield. ISSN 1474-9041

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    Abstract

    This article reviews excerpts from a body of ethnographic data examining some young people’s disaffection from, and refusal of, the education project as a whole in a UK coalfield area. Key examples are used to illustrate intergenerational continuities and disjunctions in attitudes to formal education in these exceptional and sometimes ‘insubordinate’ localities. It is argued that reviewing such data in the light of concepts emerging from the literature on Italian autonomist politics of the 1970s – particularly Paulo Virno’s work – is potentially fruitful in reclaiming a politics of educational refusal from the dual grip of a middle-class imaginary that abhors it as pathological and dangerous and a body of scholarship that seems incapable of moving beyond either lionising it as heroic or loathing it as nihilistic.

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