Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Kathleen Lynch, Bernie Grummell, and Dympna Devine, New Managerialism in Education: Commercialization, Carelessness and Gender

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Kathleen Lynch, Bernie Grummell, and Dympna Devine, New Managerialism in Education: Commercialization, Carelessness and Gender

Article excerpt

Kathleen Lynch, Bernie Grummell, and Dympna Devine, New Managerialism in Education: Commercialization, Carelessness and Gender. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 265 pp., $85.00 hardcover (978-0-230-27511-9).

In New Managerialism in Education, education scholars Lynch, Grummell, and Devine provide an illuminating empirical account of the effects of new managerial (NM) practices on Ireland's educational sectors and the impact that neoliberal reforms have had on gender relations in senior management circles. The authors are decidedly critical of the influence of NM in Ireland and Irish education in particular. This is not surprising given the authors' prior collective work in the areas of equality studies, critical social justice, and education.

The book is divided into four parts. The first section provides a general overview of the development of neoliberalism in Ireland, culminating in the Celtic Tiger period of rapid economic growth in Ireland, followed by its economic collapse in 2008. The authors speak to the unique historical and sociopolitical culture of Ireland that led to the contemporary governance structures that exist within Irish educational sectors. This book offers its most significant contributions through the second and third sections. Here the authors provide rich qualitative data to demonstrate how neoliberal projects and policies are actually accomplished, managed, and interpreted by people through everyday social practices in primary, secondary, and higher education fields. The final section provides critical discourse analysis of various Irish media sources and some interview data of media correspondents and media personnel to consider how national educational agendas get framed.

One of the issues motivating the authors' research is the continued prevalence of employment barriers for women in achieving senior management positions within all sectors of education--primary, secondary, vocational, and higher education. The authors speak to the gender imbalances in senior management, with men holding a disproportionate number of positions. One of the stated objectives for this research is to effect policy changes within educational management circles, to create more genuinely inclusive practices and procedures for women and people with care responsibilities (p. 41).

In order to investigate the prevalence of NM values within Irish education, the authors focus on the appointment process of 23 senior managers that took place within three different levels of education--primary, secondary, and higher education. Through their investigation, they conducted over 50 in-depth interviews with both the hiring assessors of educational managers as well as successful candidates. Through interviews, textual and critical discourse analysis, the authors focus on the values encoded in the recruitment process and the values directing management at all levels of education.

The qualitative data gathered by Lynch, Grummell, and Devine demonstrates that the implementation of NM values within Irish educational circles has been uneven. In primary and secondary education sectors, Irish schools are often small, acting as community hubs particularly within rural Ireland. Principals are deeply integrated into the fabric of these smaller communities and many still have teaching duties. As a result, many principals "manage" new regulatory responsibilities while attempting to minimize the impact on school staff, students, and families. With primary and secondary schooling more closely associated with care work, school principals, alongside communities, have mounted successful challenges to the competitive pressures placed on schools through various neoliberal policy agendas. The authors speak in detail to the significant role that primary and secondary teacher unions (of which principals are members) have played in challenging neoliberal discourses on educational policy, including the idea that greater accountability measures will improve the quality of Irish education. …

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