Beyond cynicism, comfort radicalism and emancipatory practice: FE teachers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The modern day prince seeks to bend public sector professionals to serve his needs. Numerous strategies have been put in place to secure this outcome, amongst which we find those of audit, performativity and surveillance. However, such practices do not easily secure the prince’s interests as they call forth all manner of resistances in an attempt to shape compliant subjectivities and identities. Such practices are working on ‘obstinately resistant material’ (Johnson, 1979). The wise prince will adjust his strategy accordingly and may indeed draw upon a rhetoric of professionalism, autonomy and empowerment thereby enabling the public sector worker and FE teacher to gain an illusionary sense of control, and even radicalism. If this teacher autonomy is located in the classroom or educational institution it can veer towards a form of comfort radicalism that whilst seeking to challenge the status quo does so only in appearance. In this way the Prince’s interests will be secured. The trick is to conceive of education as the starting point and that by necessity we need to develop an expansive politics that extends well beyond education and consequently moves beyond cynicism towards revolutionary practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Principal
Subtitle of host publicationPower and Professionalism in FE
EditorsMaire Daley, Kevin Orr, Joel Petrie
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherUCL Institute of Education Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781858568447
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2017


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