Lingard B (2014) Politics, Policies and Pedagogies in Education: The selected works of Bob Lingard. London: Routledge
As someone who is deeply interested in education policy, the opportunity to review this book came as a delight. It is a sumptuous collection and joins the World Library of Educationalists series of scholars at the forefront of education and educational thinking. The World Library series gathers career – long works from a field of international thinkers enabling the reader to gain a sense of their overall ideas, themes and influence in scholarship and practice (other contributors to the series include Michael Apple, Ivor F. Goodson and Stephen J. Ball).
Professorial Research Fellow in the School of Education and Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland, Bob Lingard’s collected works span a 30 year career spent in Australian, English and Scottish universities. Drawing upon his sociological roots, Lingard has chosen to focus upon education policy in this collected works – in particular, his interest in policy sociology in education.
For the purposes of this book, Lingard has assembled eleven of his writings that collectively, construct a position on a number of related themes. Each of the eleven pieces of writing has been previously published either as a journal article or a chapter. In this book, each piece of writing comprises its own chapter, and states, helpfully, its provenance. His earliest piece in the book dates to 2000, with the most recent published in 2012. This time span, interestingly, situates the entire body of work within the new Millennium and this, I think is significant in terms of the power of this work in helping us to understand contemporary global themes in the field of education policy.
In his introduction ‘Situating politics, policies and pedagogies in education’, Lingard introduces us to his beliefs, influences and key threads related to education policy. He characterizes his own work as collaborative, and goes on to make the case that all academic writing is, in essence, collaborative as it emerges from academic and practitioner communities that talk to each other, work with each other and, in some cases, write with each other. This, Lingard proposes, gives rise to the concept of the ‘collective author’. It is in this introduction too, that Lingard introduces Bourdieu’s theorizing as the key influence on his thinking, positioning and writing. Lingard’s clarity of thinking with regard to education research (research on education) and educational research (research for education, that requires a pedagogical disposition and has a progressive purpose) is also mapped in this introductory chapter. Similarly, Lingard sets out his belief that there is a necessity for both theory and empirical activity in this work. In making the case for theory, he proposes that theory should be utilized as a thinking tool – in Bourdieu’s words, to enable ‘fieldwork in philosophy’.
The chapters that follow are not presented chronologically but rather, have been assembled to present a coherent position in relation to education policy. The chapters interrogate policy as numbers and education policy as numbers. There is an exploration of policy borrowing and policy learning that precedes chapters on globalization (new scalar politics). Lingard offers us his reflections on Scottish education, the effect of the media on education policy and a consideration of masculinity politics. In his final chapter, Lingard takes the reader back to pedagogy that is situated within local and global contexts. In this chapter on pedagogies of indifference, Lingard makes the case for productive pedagogies that move towards social justice.
This is a tremendously important, enlightening book for those interested in policy sociology in education, education policy and social justice. It provides a depth of insight into these global issues since the new Millennium.
Department for Professional Development, Faculty of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University