Push and pull in the classroom: Competition, gender and the neoliberal subject

Wilkins, Andrew. 2012. Push and pull in the classroom: Competition, gender and the neoliberal subject. Gender and Education, 24(7), pp. 765-768. ISSN 0954-0253 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this paper I explore how learning strategies based on competition and zero-sum thinking are inscribed into the dynamics of classroom interaction shaping relations between high-achieving pupils, and link elements of these practices to market trends in British education policy discourse. A detour through the politico- historical negotiations shaping relations between neo-liberal governance and education is initially sketched out, bringing into focus how the proliferation of policy discourses of consumerism and marketisation aim to facilitate and shape the conduct of persons in classroom settings. Drawing on ethnographic observation data taken from a study of two London comprehensive secondary schools, I then outline how pupils are incited to behave as competitive strategists in the classroom and reflect on the gender constructions underpinning these performances and their slippery dynamics.

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gender, neo-liberalism, competition, pedagogy, schooling

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


29 June 2011Accepted
21 September 2012Published Online

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Date Deposited:

07 Nov 2019 15:20

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 20:06

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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