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'Cooling out the marks': the ideology and politics of vocational education in an age of austerity

Leach, Tony (2017) 'Cooling out the marks': the ideology and politics of vocational education in an age of austerity. Research in Post Compulsory Education, 22 (2). pp. 221-236.

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Abstract

As cuts in public sector funding continue to affect the lives and careers of public sector workers in the UK, and in other countries, there are added pressures on educational establishments to equip students with the knowledge and skills for employability, sustainable employment and career development in an employment marketplace characterised by neoliberal principles and practices. In this new era of austerity, the empirical research for this paper is focused on the career experiences of graduate employees working in the public sector. The paper examines the contested ideology and politics of vocational education. Specifically, it argues that the policy-driven discourse on vocational education informs a ‘cooling out’ process that deflects attention away from structural weakness in the economy, and disavows the impact of major changes in labour market conditions and in employer-employee relationships. This cooling out process, whereby individuals are made morally responsible to make something of their lives, in contexts where opportunities to do so are increasingly reduced, perpetuates ideological fantasies of individual aspiration and opportunity that amount to a form of ‘cruel optimism.’ The paper ends with the case for a robust, research-informed debate about the contested purpose of post-compulsory education in the 21st century, the processes of psychological contracting between students and staff in colleges of further education and universities, and how contractual expectations and beliefs change over time

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Revised paper from the Association for Research in Post-compulsory Education 2nd International Research Conference, 8-10 July 2016, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford. "This is an accepted version of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal for the Research in Post Compulsory Education on 19/07/2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13596748.2017.1314681"
Status: Published
DOI: 10.1080/13596748.2017.1314681
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
School/Department: School of Education
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/2355

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