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Disrupting deficit: the power of ‘the pause’ in resisting the dominance of deficit knowledges in education


Humphry, N, Disrupting deficit: the power of the pause' in resisting the dominance of deficit knowledges in education, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 18, (5) pp. 484- 499. ISSN 1464-5173 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Taylor & Francis

DOI: doi:10.1080/13603116.2013.789087


Deficit ways of speaking about educationally displaced young people are a dominant feature in the language educators draw on to make sense of particular young people. This language can have debilitating effects on the lives of those young people it is applied to. Despite well over 20 years of critique, deficit truths have remained dominant. However, in one Australian organisation, this dominance is being resisted. The resistance makes its appearance through an active silence I have termed ‘the pause’. The notion of ‘the pause’ came from teacher interviews in an ethnographic study of four alternative schools in one Australian organisation working with young people experiencing the extremes of disadvantage. I use the Foucaultian notion of silence to explore the suggestion that ‘the pause’ is one tactic deployed by this organisation, working to both resist and disrupt the dominance of deficit knowledges. I argue that these educators’ deployment of ‘the pause’ demonstrates their formation of a space where new language about these young people is engaged.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:silence, deficit, education, educational disadvantage, Foucault
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education policy, sociology and philosophy
Research Field:Sociology of education
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Equity and access to education
UTAS Author:Humphry, N (Dr Nicoli Barnes)
ID Code:136712
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2020-01-15
Last Modified:2020-05-20

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