Paradoxes of Democracy, Leadership and Education: Struggling for Social Justice in the Twenty-first Century, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Paradoxes of Democracy, Leadership and Education

Struggling for Social Justice in the Twenty-first Century, 1st Edition

Edited by John Schostak, Matthew Clarke, Linda Hammersley-Fletcher


248 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138492981
pub: 2020-06-03
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 3rd June 2020
Hardback: 9781138492967
pub: 2020-06-03
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 3rd June 2020

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Paradoxes of Democracy, Leadership and Education engages both critically and creatively with important social, political and educational issues, and argues that the organisational forms of contemporary schooling are caught up in politically significant contradictions. Highlighting the inescapable paradoxes that educators must grapple with in their thought and practice as they seek to reconcile democracy and leadership in education, this book addresses the question of whether socially-just democratic futures can be realised through education.

Divided into two parts, the first section explores theoretical frameworks and concepts, presenting theory and raising issues and questions, while the second shares diverse examples of practice, renewing and reanimating the links between education, leadership and democracy, and providing models of alternatives. Studying a number of global developments that can be seen as potentially threatening, such as a growing inequality in wealth and income and the declining participation and trust in democratic processes, this text is at the forefront of international innovations in educational theory and philosophy.

A fascinating and vital read for all researchers and students, Paradoxes of Democracy, Leadership and Education considers the opportunities and challenges that are confronting and threatening education in the modern world.


A hugely important, timely response to contemporary dilemmas in education, democracy and society. Not only does it eloquently and incisively challenge contemporary norms, it explores grounded, inspiring alternatives that have the wisdom, imagination and power to help us develop new practices and possibilities. A deeply thoughtful, thought-provoking book; a book of integrity, power, possibility and occasional beauty. A book which, in its own words, helps us ‘Create the conditions for young people to write the poetry of their own futures’.

Michael Fielding, Emeritus Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University College London, UK

This important and compelling book is a much-needed challenge to the contemporary neoliberal framing of education. Richly theorised and convincingly argued, it presents a lucid and insightful analysis of the current disquieting state of play in education, before clearly setting out the possibilities for real democratisation of education and wider society. This book is a must-read for all those concerned about growing inequalities in education and what we need to do about them.

Diane Reay, Visiting Professor, London School of Economics, UK, and Emeritus Professor of Sociology of Education, University of Cambridge, UK.

Contemporary educational leadership is curiously poised between the promise of ever greater freedoms and the sober realisation of tighter regulation and control. The book is eloquent in its consideration of the inescapable paradoxes that beset educational policy and practice. Of how we are first tempted towards the possibility of a better future, espousing greater equality, liberty and inclusivity, before becoming unavoidably compromised through the pervasive exercise of power that both violates democracy and serves to naturalize instrumentalism. Such tensions and contradictions are not easily resolved and while the authors make no claim to do so they otherwise offer a sophisticated account of radically rethinking the formation of future educational practices: relations, institutions and leadership.   

Dean Garratt, Editor of Power and Education Journal.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

    John Schostak, Matthew Clarke and Linda Hammersley-Fletcher

  2. Part I: The Scenes of Debate: How theory opens avenues for action

  3. Chapter 1: Power, Schools, Schooling and the Perversions of Democracy

    John Schostak

  4. Chapter 2: Towards a Society of Equals: Challenging the Neoconservative-Neoliberal Alliance

    John Schostak

  5. Chapter 3: Leadership: Living with and working through Paradox

    Linda Hammersley-Fletcher and John Schostak

  6. Chapter 4: Democracy and education: ‘In spite of it all’

    Matthew Clarke

  7. Chapter 5: Inscribing Discourses of Capitalism, Co-operation and Education on the Body and/or Mind

    John Schostak

  8. Chapter 6: A Crisis of Modernity? The implications for educating the public for socially just futures

    John Schostak and Andonis Zagorianakos

  9. Chapter 7: From Competition to Collaboration to Cooperation?

    Matthew Clarke, John Schostak and Linda Hammersley-Fletcher

  10. Part II: The Struggle to Develop Alternatives Within the Contemporary Scenes of Practice

  11. Chapter 8: "Democratic communing schools": First notes on producing democratic schools through communing practices

    Jordi Collet-Sabé

  12. Chapter 9: Working towards a democratic home-school imaginary

    Charlotte Haines Lyon

  13. Chapter 10: Leadership, the Vanishing Mediator and Organisation

    Linda Hammersley-Fletcher, John Schostak and Usama Darwish

  14. Chapter 11: Democracy in the Classroom

    Tony Leach

  15. Chapter 12: Against Reconciliation: Constituent power, ethics, and the meaning of democratic education

    Noah De Lissovoy

  16. Chapter 13: Populism, Democracy, Education and Freedom: Creating a world without walls

    John Schostak, Matthew Clarke and Linda Hammersley-Fletcher

  17. Conclusion
  18. Bibliography

About the Editors

John Schostak is Emeritus Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

Matthew Clarke is Professor of Education at York St John University, UK.

Linda Hammersley-Fletcher is a Reader in Educational Leadership and Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

About the Series

Foundations and Futures of Education

Foundations and Futures of Education focuses on key emerging issues in education as well as continuing debates within the field. The series is inter-disciplinary, and includes historical, philosophical, sociological, psychological and comparative perspectives on the purposes and nature of education; increasing interdisciplinarity within the field; and the theory-practice divide.

Learn more…

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