Bodies-in-Transition: an ethnography of the opportunities and constraints of BTEC performing arts students

Barker, Edmund (2018) Bodies-in-Transition: an ethnography of the opportunities and constraints of BTEC performing arts students. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Set against widening participation agendas in the United Kingdom (UK), educational policy makers and practitioners have become increasingly invested in supporting more diverse populations of young people across the entire student lifecycle. The current and potential role of vocational education has commanded notable attention in these public discussions. This refocussing of attention towards student lifecycles has, in turn, led to growing political and academic concerns regarding student transitions. However, research conducted at the intersections of these interests indicate that transitional opportunities are unevenly distributed across changing student populations. It is this mosaic of differential opportunities that this project set out to explore.

BTEC level three qualifications are popular vocational options, and pathways into higher education, situated at the heart of these wider debates and tensions circulating in the UK. The performing arts are notably emblematic of the increasingly unequal, precarious, individualised, and unpredictable nature of transition. This 18 month multi-sited, multi-sensory ethnography explored and articulated these transitional experiences vividly. Findings were organised into three ‘plays’. Each play provided separate but interrelated analyses and narratives of transition, that together uncovered an important range of educational and social processes. These were represented as: (1) a web of power relations that constrained individuals and groups based on gender, sexuality, and class; (2) the embodiment of a hidden curriculum of expression; and (3) the operationalisation of skills discourse that ordered the technical and creative value of certain performances. Theoretical reflections on these transitional narratives provided more substance to what is often referred to as the messy, fragmented, or complex process of transition. Through this, a new theoretical option is offered, bodies-in-transition. This timely contribution responds to the call for more sophisticated accounts of transition to surface while setting an agenda from which educational policies and pedagogies must now respond.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Bruce Beckett
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2018 13:16
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2018 13:16


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