A review of class-based theories of student resistance in education: mapping the origins and influence of Learning to Labor by Paul Willis

McGrew, Ken (2011) A review of class-based theories of student resistance in education: mapping the origins and influence of Learning to Labor by Paul Willis. Review of Educational Research, 81 (2). pp. 234-266. ISSN 0034-6543

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0034654311402358

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

This article examines the origins, influence, and contemporary understandings of class-based theories of student resistance in education, contributing to or emerging from Learning to Labor by Paul Willis. It reports the results of a review of the literature that discusses class-based student resistance and cites the seminal book. More than 500 published articles were reviewed, in addition to books and book chapters. This review reveals misconceptions in the literature that have developed around both the book and its theory. These misconceptions include the belief that the resistance theory described by Willis was original and that it was a drastic departure from reproduction theory, or at least correspondence theories like those of Bowles and Gintis, and that the resistance theory attributed to Willis, one of the most influential theories in contemporary critical scholarship in education, is the same theory that Willis himself describes. These misconceptions, and the failure to acknowledge them, raise questions about both the validity of resistance theory and the ability of the critical education community, collectively, to engage with unwelcome evidence, to refine, and to evolve.

Keywords:Paul Willis, Bowles and Gintis, Critical Theory, Resistance Theory, Reproduction Theory, Learning to Labor, Schooling in Capitalist America
Subjects:X Education > X990 Education not elsewhere classified
X Education > X390 Academic studies in Education not elsewhere classified
X Education > X900 Others in Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
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ID Code:16330
Deposited On:26 Dec 2014 19:42

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