Social Theory and Education Research : Understanding Foucault, Habermas,Bourdieu and Derrida book cover
1st Edition

Social Theory and Education Research
Understanding Foucault, Habermas,Bourdieu and Derrida

Edited By

Mark Murphy

ISBN 9780415530149
Published May 3, 2013 by Routledge
232 Pages

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Book Description

Although education researchers have drawn on the work of a wide diversity of theorists, a number of these have been of particular significance to education. While the likes of Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, John Dewey and Paulo Freire influenced previous generations of educational theorists, much of the more contemporary theory building has revolved around a quartet of well-known and much-debated thinkers – Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Derrida. However, while the influence of these thinkers has grown considerably over the last number of years, both their original work and its application to education can prove challenging to the educational practitioner. The challenges they pose to educators are exacerbated by a lack of suitable reading material that can appeal to the advanced practitioner market, while also providing a sufficiently in-depth overview of the various theories and their applications in educational research.


This edited book expertly rectifies this omission in the educational literature, and delivers a text that is both advanced and accessible, offering the education practitioner/researcher a suitable guide to assist their acquisition and application of social theory. The chapters included in this collection are designed to illustrate the diverse ways in which continental theory of whatever stripe can be applied to educational issues. From school surveillance to curriculum, social theory is used to shed light on ‘practical’ issues facing the sector, helping to widen and deepen discussion around these areas when they are in danger of being over-simplified.


This book will be incredibly useful to post-graduate student teachers who wish to develop their capacity to engage with these debates at an advanced level. It will also prove of great interest to anyone involved in education policy and theory.

Table of Contents

Section 1: Introduction  1. Social theory and education research: An introduction Mark Murphy  Section 2: Foucault  2. Foucault and his Acolytes: Discourse, power and ethics Julie Allan  3. Foucault, Panopticism and School Surveillance Research Andrew Hope  4. Foucault, Confession and Reflective Practices Andreas Fejes  Section 3: Habermas  5. Jürgen Habermas: Education’s reluctant hero Terence Lovat  6. The Politics of School Regulation: Using Habermas to research educational accountability Mark Murphy and Paul Skillen  7. Using Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action in an Analysis of Recognition of Prior Learning Fredrik Sandberg  Section 4: Bourdieu  8. Bourdieu and Educational Research: Thinking tools, relational thinking, beyond epistemological innocence Shaun Rawolle and Bob Lingard  9. Research in the New Christian Academies: Perspectives from Bourdieu Elizabeth Green  10. Bourdieu Applied: Exploring perceived parental influence on adolescent students’ educational choices for studies in higher education Irene Kleanthous  Section 5: Derrida  11. Derrida and Educational Research: An introduction Jones Irwin  12. ‘Derrida Applied’: Derrida meets Dracula in the geography classroom Christine Winter  13. Engaging With Student Teachers on Reflective Writing: Reclaiming writing Duncan Mercieca

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Mark Murphy is Reader in Education at the University of Glasgow, UK. He is the creator of, a website designed to provide a platform for discussion around the relationship between theory and educational research.