Effectiveness, difference and sociological research

Taylor & Francis
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 2002, 23 (3), pp. 229 - 238
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For Australian sociology of education, Making the Difference (Connell, Ashenden, Kessler and Dowsett 1982) was not just a major argument, and a `classic point of reference. It was also an event, an intervention in ways of doing research and speaking to practice, a methodology, a textual style. In some respects its influence on the latter dimensions has been even more pervasive and long-lasting than its influence as argument or theory. It seemed, simultaneously, to mark the high point of Reproduction theories of schooling (though its authors did not see it in this way) and also a thoughtful and orchestrated attempt to intervene in the processes. For a considerable time both before and after the publication of the book itself, the research team was a prominent roadshow in Australia, speaking to and writing for many specific audiences: teachers, teacher unions, parents, press. The book itself was designed to be read by a much wider audience than the standard sociological texts, and it succeeded in this aim. Subsequently it has become more commonplace to see research and writing as constructing and powerful practices, not just neutral paths to knowledge or communication, but Making the Difference helped to show other researchers what different ways of embarking on this might look like.
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