Social Haunting or Reclaiming the Past? Education and the Working Class in a Former Mining Community

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the educational experiences of pupils at ‘Lillydown Primary’, a state school for 3-11 year olds, located in a former mining community in the north of England. It mobilises Avery Gordon’s notion of social haunting to illustrate how experiences of school are shaped not only by current socioeconomic circumstances but also by historical class-based relations and performances that remain embedded in certain working-class communities. Whilst the multiple forms of violence inflicted by the neoliberal state on places like Lillydown have caused profound and far-reaching social and economic harm, our data suggests that it is possible, at least in some circumstances, to reckon with and draw on the past to harness the ‘goodness’ of ghosts. In particular, the paper illustrates how historical relations, which have typically worked as an apparatus for creating and maintaining relations of solidarity, trust and equality underground and in community life more broadly, continue to be transmitted and retraditionalised within the School. These historical transmissions enable staff to develop encouraging relations with their pupils and connect with them in ways that locate contemporary experiences of education in a socio-historical framework that recognises the richness and heritage of working-class culture, as well as the pain and loss. The echoes and murmurs of the past that remain to haunt are reckoned with and harnessed by staff, we argue, through their shared working-class histories.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal for Critical Education Policy Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2019


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