‘ ‘Critical bureaucracy’ in action: Embedding student voice into school governance’

Carlile, Anna. 2012. ‘ ‘Critical bureaucracy’ in action: Embedding student voice into school governance’. Pedagogy Culture and Society, 20(3), pp. 393-412. ISSN 1468-1366 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article suggests a model for ‘youth voice’ based on a participatory research methodology, ‘Illuminate’. The article reports on research into the capacity for ‘Illuminate’ to amount to ‘critical bureaucracy’. Critical bureaucracy is presented as an approach to governance activities (here, in schools and further education colleges) which is related to ‘critical pedagogy’ in its reflexivity and sensitivity to issues of policy, power and social justice. The article reports on the testing of the Illuminate model through projects at two schools and a further education college: one on the flexible use of time in the curriculum; another on safety in school students’ lives; and the third on widening participation in the creative arts. Drawing on Freire, Foucault, and Hart, these projects are analysed according to theories of emancipatory research methods, governance, participation, and critical pedagogy, assessing the Illuminate model’s efficacy in terms of a pragmatic approach to critical bureaucracy. The analysis reveals a tension in the adoption of the combination of post-modern theories of governance and an ethic of social justice.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Pedagogy Culture and Society


critical pedagogy, youth voice, bureaucracy, social justice, governance, policy, participation, Freire, Foucault

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


25 September 2012Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

15 Jul 2015 10:02

Last Modified:

05 Nov 2019 15:46

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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