Critical research in education is not what it used to be. It must now engage with a differently structured and globalized world with different social and material conditions for its peoples. This paper sets out to name the contemporary structure of feeling in which education researchers now work, particularly in terms of what now is to be the object of their educational theorizing and research and what are to be the intellectual resources brought to bear on such activity. The intention is to open up debate, recognizing that there are no easy answers and yet acknowledging the need for answers to be attempted. It is, therefore, an invitation premised on an optimism of the will to complement legitimate pessimism of the intellect. It concludes that a critical engagement with these matters demands a modernist/postmodernist, reconstructive/deconstructive reflexivity in the mobilizing of a new sociological imagination applied across the broad spectrum which is educational research.