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Schools, ‘ferals’, stigma and boundary work: parents managing education and uncertainty in regional Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Rose ButlerRose Butler
This paper examines forms of boundary work undertaken by parents in a regional Australian city to negotiate social processes around the school market amidst rising economic insecurity. It outlines structural changes, which have increased economic inequality in Australia and impacted on educational reform, and the specific challenges faced by public schools in regional settings. Drawing on 18 months’ qualitative research in one regional location, it identifies and analyses forms of boundary work undertaken by middle-class families to manage these uncertainties in a field of scarce economic and cultural resources. Theories of class culture, stigma and whiteness are used to show how local social labels such as ‘ferals’ and ‘shiny people’ acted as classed and racialised ways of negotiating this social and economic landscape through the school field. Such practices engendered feelings of security and control and shed light on feelings of class-based resentment and anxiety in regional Australia, specifically a middle-class ‘fear of falling’.

History

Journal

Ethnography and education

Volume

10

Pagination

340-355

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

1745-7823

eISSN

1745-7831

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, Taylor & Francis

Issue

3

Publisher

Taylor and Francis