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Beyond 'emotional literacy' in feminist and educational research

Burman, Erica (2009) Beyond 'emotional literacy' in feminist and educational research. British educational research journal, 35 (1). pp. 137-155. ISSN 0141-1926

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Educational research has a long history of engagement with emotions. Together with feminist research, it has championed the legitimacy of research approaches that not only admit but also analyse researcher reflexivity. The article's author cautions against subscription to emerging cultural discourses promoting the validity and expression of emotions—distinguishing between a feminist agenda and appropriations of a pseudo-feminist discourse that now permeate neo-liberal governmentality. First, the article analyses the assumptions underlying the 'emotional literacy' paradigm, before, secondly, addressing some specifically educational developments related to the shift towards 'life span' and 'lifelong learning' within university assessment strategies in the form of 'personal development profiles'. It is argued that we need to attend very closely to the epithet 'emotional literacy' as a process of schooling for the production of discourse about emotion, rather than the discovery or recognition of some essential inner, individual feelings. Rather than becoming literate about emotions, the task is to analyse the models of writing emotions in circulation. The article finishes with some more general policy connections that underscore the broader political agendas served by the 'emotional' turn.

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