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The ambivalence of community: A critical analysis of rural education's oldest trope


Corbett, MJ, The ambivalence of community: A critical analysis of rural education's oldest trope, Peabody Journal of Education, 89, (5) pp. 603-618. ISSN 0161-956X (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Crown Copyright

DOI: doi:10.1080/0161956X.2014.956532


The concept of community has been central to the discourse of rural education for generations. At the same time, community has been and continues to be a deeply problematic concept. I begin this analysis with Raymond Williamsís characterization of the idea of community as a uniquely positive concept, arguing that this framing is, as Williams pointed out, deeply problematic. This paper interrogates the idea of community and looks at the way it has been used historically in rural education as well as some of the ways that it is understood and used in educational, social science, policy, and governance discourses today. In this analysis I draw on the foundational communitarian analysis of American social thinkers Paul Theobald and Robert Putnam as well as on Williamsís critical analysis of rurality and community. I argue that effective rural educational policy today needs to problematize the idea of community and develop it in ways that avoids playing into nostalgic and retrogressive notions of the rural. This argument is based on a conception of place that keeps in focus multiple and complex understandings of emerging postproductivist rural spaces.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:community, rural education, communitarianism, neoliberalism
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education systems
Research Field:Continuing and community education
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in education
UTAS Author:Corbett, MJ (Professor Michael Corbett)
ID Code:98062
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2015-01-29
Last Modified:2018-01-25

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