'Structure liberates?': Mixing for mobility and the cultural transformation of 'urban children' in a London academy

Kulz, Christy. 2014. 'Structure liberates?': Mixing for mobility and the cultural transformation of 'urban children' in a London academy. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(4), pp. 685-701. ISSN 01419870 [Article]

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This paper explores how the creation of a socially and ethnically mixed student body relates to mobility within the context of Beaumont Academy. This authoritarian school opened in 2004 under the ethos 'structure liberates'. Based in a predominantly deprived, ethnic minority area of London, Beaumont seeks to culturally transform its students. With its outstanding GCSE results, the school has been championed as a blueprint for reform, yet the cultural implications underlying this approach remain unexamined. The ethos pathologizes the surrounding area while essentializing itself as an 'oasis in the desert' liberating students through discipline. The paper explores how mobility is embodied by students and the alterations or eliminations necessary to achieve it. These alterations produce raced and classed positions and bring them into focus, highlighting who needs to 'adjust' themselves to accrue value. Uncritical celebrations of mixed-ness conceal structural inequalities lingering beneath the rhetoric of happy multiculturalism and aspirational citizenship. These inequalities are exacerbated by a marketized education system.

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Special Issue: New racisms, new racial subjects?: The neoliberal moment and the racial landscape of contemporary Britain


education; ethnicity; inequality; multiculturalism; social class; social mixing

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March 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

22 Jul 2014 06:18

Last Modified:

25 Jul 2014 11:52

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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