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The art foundation course: laying the foundations for creative careers in a neo-liberal regime

Knowles, John Richard (2023) The art foundation course: laying the foundations for creative careers in a neo-liberal regime. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
KNOWLES JOHN FINAL THESIS.pdf - Published Version
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There is a considerable body of literature which considers the history of art education and teaching and learning on art and design degree courses, but less on the foundation course stage. This research adds to this literature through a study examining students’ experiences of their art foundation courses and how these influence their educational and career journeys within a neo-liberal economic regime. The study foregrounds Bourdieu’s concept of illusio as
the driver of the participants’ agency and the transitions they make as their professional identities develop. It contrasts the playful, experimental ethos of the foundation course with the instrumental, performative discourse of neo-liberal education policies. Face to face and online interviews were used to co-construct narratives of the participants’ experiences, which were enhanced by the participants’ images visualising their identities.

The study found that their foundation courses prepared the foundations on which the participants built their careers through modifying their habitus, building their cultural capital, developing their identities and allowing them to invest their illusio as they journey into their chosen specific fields. Dealing with the challenges of building creative careers in a neo-liberal regime and reconciling the tensions between their habitus and their practices as creative individuals with the demands of the market and of their clients required considerable resilience as they tried to reconcile their individual creativity and authenticity with economic requirements and uncertainties.

These participants’ stories demonstrate that their experiences on their art foundation courses have had a continuing positive impact on their perceptions of themselves as creative individuals. In contrast to the competitive approach fostered by neo-liberal policies the
participants clearly benefitted from mutual support and shared identity with their peers, creating a sense of belonging to a community of practice that offers a challenge to instrumental conceptions of vocational education through developing creative practitioners with a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Published
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8001

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