1st Edition

Practice Theory and Education
Diffractive readings in professional practice

ISBN 9781138191396
Published December 9, 2016 by Routledge
280 Pages

USD $185.00

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Book Description

Practice Theory and Education challenges how we think about ‘practice’, examining what it means across different fields and sites. It is organised into four themes: discursive practices; practice, change and organisations; practising subjectivity; and professional practice, public policy and education.

Contributors to the collection engage and extend practice theory by drawing on the legacies of diverse social and cultural theorists, including Bourdieu, de Certeau, Deleuze and Guattari, Dewey, Latour, Marx, and Vygotsky, and by building on the theoretical trajectories of contemporary authors such as Karen Barad, Yrjo Engestrom, Andreas Reckwitz, Theodore Schatzki, Dorothy Smith, and Charles Taylor. The proximity of ideas from different fields and theoretical traditions in the book highlight key matters of concern in contemporary practice thinking, including the historicity of practice; the nature of change in professional practices; the place of discursive material in practice; the efficacy of refiguring conventional understandings of subjectivity and agency; and the capacity for theories of practice to disrupt conventional understandings of asymmetries of power and resources. Their juxtaposition also points to areas of contestation and raises important questions for future research.

Practice Theory and Education will appeal to postgraduate students, academics and researchers in professional practice and education, and scholars working with social theory. It will be of particular interest to those who wish to move beyond the limiting configurations of practice found in contemporary neoliberal, new managerialist and narrow representationalist discourses.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Diffractive readings in practice theory Julianne Lynch, Julie Rowlands, Trevor Gale & Andrew Skourdoumbis

Section 1. Discursive practices: Practising words, writing and theory

2. Exploring words as people’s practices Dorothy E Smith

3. Accounting for practice in an age of theory: Charles Taylor’s theory of social imaginaries Steven Hodge and Stephen Parker

4. Michel de Certeau: Research writing as an everyday practice Julianne Lynch and Kristoffer Greaves

5. ‘Gestures towards’: Conceptualising literary practices for Crises of Ecologies David Harris

Section 2. Practice, change and organisations

6. Shaping and being shaped: extending the relationship between habitus and practice Julie Rowlands and Trevor Gale

7. Practicing policy networks: Using organisational field theory to examine philanthropic involvement in education policy Joseph J. Ferrare and Michael W. Apple

8. A Cultural-Historical Approach to Practice: working within and across practices Anne Edwards

9. The development of a text counselling practice: An actor-network theory account by Ailsa Haxell

Section 3. Practising subjectivity

10. Parsing and Re-Constituting Human Practice as Mind-in-Activity Peter H. Sawchuk

11. Boobs and Barbie: Feminist posthuman perspectives on gender, bodies and practice Julia Coffey and Jessica Ringrose

12. The practice of survival: reflexivity and transformation of contract-employed beginning teachers’ professional practice Michelle Ludecke

13. Classroom activity systems and practices of care Catherine Smith and Russell Cross

Section 4. Professional practice, public policy and education

14. Bad research, bad education: The contested evidence for evidence-based research, policy and practice in education Michael A Peters and Marek Tesar

15. Deliberations on the deliberative professional: Thought-action provocations Trevor Gale and Tebeje Molla

16. The temptations and failings of teacher effectiveness research: Provocations of a ‘practice perspective’ Andrew Skourdoumbis and Julianne Lynch

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Julianne Lynch is Senior Lecturer in Curriculum and Pedagogy at Deakin University, Australia. Her research focuses on curriculum innovation and the everyday practices of teaching and learning, particularly in relation to new media and new communication technologies.

Julie Rowlands is a Senior Lecturer in Education Leadership at Deakin University in Australia. Her research takes a critical sociology of education approach, drawing particularly on the theories of Pierre Bourdieu, to examine higher education systems, governance, leadership, academic work and organisational change.

Trevor Gale is Professor of Education Policy and Social Justice at The University of Glasgow, where he heads the School of Education. He is a critical policy sociologist researching social justice in contexts of influence and of practice in education.

Andrew Skourdoumbis is a Senior Lecturer in Education (Pedagogy and Curriculum) at Deakin University, Australia. His research engages with matters of curriculum theory encompassing policy analysis, teacher practice and educational performance. Andrew is interested in global reform efforts in education that impact teacher practice and the way that exacting methods of research govern school education policy and teacher performance.  


‘This book is an extremely rich, broad and beautifully theorised collection of essays that takes on the complexities of practice in an erudite and accomplished style that comes together across each piece and in the weave and fabric of what has been produced overall… This is a scholarly collection that repays detailed reading and indeed, requires detailed reading and rereading. The collection challenges us all to engage with a robust set of contrasting theories and demands serious attention.’

Meg Maguire, Professor, King’s College London, UK, writing in the Journal of Education Policy

‘Practice Theory and Education explores and maps relatively uncharted territory, to problematise and theorise practice. An impressive range of theoretical resources (including Bourdieu, Vygotsky, Deleuze) are mobilised to bring practice into question. This is a creative, adventurous and significant collection of papers, written by outstanding scholars, which marks a step-change in how we understand and research practices in education. Really exciting stuff!’
Stephen J. Ball, Professor, University College London, UK

‘Insightful, wide-ranging, scholarly, and innovative, this book is a welcome addition to the growing body of work on practice theory and professional education. An important contribution, breaking new theoretical ground, it rewards careful and attentive, diffractive reading!’
Bill Green, Emeritus Professor, Charles Sturt University, Australia

‘This stunning collection troubles all the clichés about practice that structure and weigh down an applied field like education, especially the theory/practice and research/practice binaries. Authors convince us that theory, practice, and research function in an onto-epistemological arrangement in which they are not distinct but completely imbricated. They encourage us to experiment in this arrangement to produce difference, the exceptional, rather than to repeat the same, the pedestrian, the normal they refuse.’
Elizabeth Adams St. Pierre, Professor and Graduate Coordinator, University of Georgia, USA

‘The need to theorise practice in education has never been greater than it is today. It is through theoretical analysis leading to the development of cogent critique that we should be able to resist the vagaries and short-termism of so many recent interventions into education policy. This volume brings together contributions from leading scholars around the world who draw on a wonderful array of theories to demonstrate the power of such research.’
Ian Menter, Emeritus Professor, University of Oxford, UK

‘In an age when education practice has become routinized and confined to "best practices," the contributors to this volume challenge how we connect theory and practice. The authors build on a diverse range of theorists to suggest numerous paths to reconceptualizing the theory-practice connection. The ideas are invigorating and, therefore, the book warrants a close reading and rereading.’
David Hursh, Professor, University of Rochester, USA

‘This is an important and timely book. I especially welcome its emphasis on drawing from many traditional sources, yet at the same time problematising their established canons and taken for granted assumptions. In the spirit of disruption, this overall approach creates a sense of resonance and dissonance while celebrating alterity and renegotiating what practice theory is all about. A much needed perspective at this time of turmoil and crisis in education and beyond.’
Anna Stetsenko, Professor, The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, USA

'The book is inquisitive, insightful and constructive, connecting diverse fundamental theories of practice and critical analyses of today’s approaches towards practices. The book also offers new avenues in the understanding of practices which honour their complexity, interrelatedness, dynamism and strong influence in the educational, professional and policy landscapes. In the higher education sector, where competitiveness may lead to simplification and standardisation of measures and understanding of practices, it is much necessary to acknowledge the evident yet challenging non-linearity of practices and act upon it in the continuous (re)construction of educational systems. This book is a highly recommended reading to researchers and social scientists.'

Andrea Detmer, Higher Education