​Mining a Productive Seam: Retraditionalising Working-Class Relations and Performances as a Pedagogical Tool of Possibility​

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper presents data from ethnographic research carried out at ‘Lillydown Primary’, a local-authority school in a former coalmining community in South Yorkshire. It complicates Avery Gordon’s (2008) concept of social haunting arguing that, in order to transcend typical accounts of working-class resistance to schooling (see for example, Willis, 1997; Bright, 2012, 2018), we must move beyond the loss and social violence of the past and begin to reckon with the ‘goodness’ of ghosts – the goodness of working-class culture – that a haunting also transmits. The central argument is that various dimensions of staff and pupils’ shared histories work as an apparatus to diffuse and transform neoliberal processes and experiences of schooling. Particular relations and pedagogies are refashioned upon more traditional working-class codes and ethics, of trust, equality, and solidarity. Most notably, it shows how traditional working-class humour continues to be used as resource to manage social relations, mediate authority, and ameliorate the effects of dominant neoliberal discourses of education, and its role and function for working-class youth in contemporary capitalist society. Reckoning with and harnessing pupils’ ghosts – the loss, the goodness, and the utopian – is key, this paper argues, to truly understanding and potentially transforming experiences of schooling with and for the working class.
Period6 May 2021
Event titleFeeling Class: Emotions, Bodies and the Affective Politics of Social Inequalities
Event typeConference
LocationSheffield, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational