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‘Sticking together!’ Policy activism from within a UK coal-mining community

Bright, N. Geoffrey (2012) ‘Sticking together!’ Policy activism from within a UK coal-mining community. Journal of educational administration and history, 44 (3). pp. 221-236. ISSN 1478-7431


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This article reflects on some aspects of a doctoral ethnographic study of young people disaffected from schooling in a post-industrial space of ruin in a former coal-mining community in England. It considers how their experiences of resistance and refusal of schooling can, in the relational ethos of non-school support settings, come to speak back to hegemonic policy, particularly around ‘aspiration’. Focusing on the example of a young people's film project, data are assembled showing how a local culture of ‘resistant aspiration’ – itself affectively linked to sedimented traditions of insubordination – forms a site of activist possibility. In this site, the ground-level resistance of the young people and the more strategically informed interventions of a group of locally originating staff come together in a moment of policy activism that displays both scope and limitation.

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