Prism Early View – Beyond binaries and before becoming: the affective dimensions of academic-level resistance

Drawing from the tensions within non-representational and human practice perspectives on affect, this paper continues the task of re-conceptualising academic-level resistance in the context of UK higher education. Such re-conceptualisation is underpinned by the belief that illustrating the breadth of resistant possibility within and between universities can assist in the development of action against the competitive and for-profit imperatives currently overwhelming this educational sphere. Indeed, while resistance research is increasingly interested in the (dis)connections between overt and “everyday” (Scott, 1985) forms of action (e.g. Contu, 2008; Zembylas, 2019), HE researchers have paid little attention to the latter. Consequently, academic-level resistance remains normatively portrayed as exceptional, novel and less influential than that it rejects.

For the sake of contributing a counternarrative, this paper employs a diffractive methodology to examine the affective roles of emotion, meaning making practices and pre-personal factors. By speculating how academic-level resistance derives from not only consciously undertaken cost-benefit analyses but from the entanglement of material and non-material elements, this discussion emphasises the notion of “becoming” and so problematises reductive binaries of overt/covert, high-cost/low-cost, resister/complier. Irrespective of the resounding difficulties that accompany efforts to exploit the affective dimensions of resistance, this emphasis nevertheless situates possibility at the heart of UK higher education and the actions pushing against its neoliberal form.

DOI: Affect, Resistance, Higher education, poststructural, binaries

Full text

Marx on workplace alienation

I recently wrote a blog about David Harvey’s podcast, and new book, The Anti-Capitalist Chronicles. There are several disparate themes in the book; probably, too many to cover in one blog. So, I have picked one subject that has always fascinated me: the Marxist notion of alienation.

We all know what alienation means, but I was surprised to learn that some people argue it was derived from the Latin word for selling. When we sell something, we alienate it. A legal definition of alienation is that it is the transfer of the ownership of property rights. Take my childhood home, a big part of my life is now owned by someone else. In a sense I am alienated from it, but the family home is not just a technical matter there is a sense of the separation of things that belong together. I once had a discussion with a colleague about his divorce; he had become separated from his wife. Once there was intimacy but now just alienation. They confront one another as strangers.

Of course, selling in itself may not be alienating, only selling something you regret parting with or do not wish to sell has the power to alienate. You might sell your collection of 1980’s CD’s for example and be glad to see the back of it. This is not alienation. You might on the other hand love your CD collection and deeply regret getting rid of it. This is alienation because you experience it as a loss.

Marx saw alienation as something more than a technical or personal issue; he also saw it as work related. When we go to work, we sell our labour in the marketplace and we alienate it. A key part of our lives: our time, skill, and effort are now someone else’s to control and deploy as they see fit. The product of our labour, what we make and to an extent who we are, is subject to control. In effect, we are alienated at work. Again, this selling of labour may not be problematic, you may love your job. Not all work, therefore, is alienated.

Capitalists are also subject to what Marx describes as the coercive laws of competition or market forces. The capitalist must be competitive in the marketplace and much of their decision making is determined by the need to compete. They experience the market as a separate ‘force’ that is independent of them. Market forces may force them to make decisions they deeply regret like laying off a valued staff member or filing for bankruptcy. Capitalists cede their ability to control their own and their workers lives to the markets. This is a specific form of alienation that Marx calls fetishism. Capitalists create the markets and then the markets begin to exert some control over the people that created it.

The world we construct, therefore, confronts us as an alien force that attempts to exert control over us. It is important to note, however, that alienation is a diagnosis of a social ill, not a cure. It does, however, set up some interesting areas for future investigation.

We like to think, or at least I do, work need not be alienating. All we need to do is to figure out how to live in unalienated ways. Sadly, the theory of alienation does not tell us how; we have to figure that out for ourselves.


Harvey, D., 2020. Anti-Capitalist Chronicles. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 21 10 2020].

Freedom and the anti-capitalist chronicles

I must admit I find podcasts a useful way to learn. One of my favourites is the Anti-capitalist chronicles by David Harvey (2020), an influential Marxist theorist. I mention this because Prof Harvey has just released a book based on the podcasts, which in time I will review in my guise as literary editor of Prism journal. 

I thought a blog about one of the major themes would be interesting. One chapter addresses the question of whether socialism affects freedom. I am particularly interested in the dialectical nature of such propositions as they manifest themselves in contemporary political debate.

Somewhat fortuitously, as I sat down to write this blog, the current Conservative government banned anti-capitalist materials from schools (and frowned upon promoting divisive or victim narratives) (Department for Education, 2020). You cannot help but feel the anti-capitalist materials alluded to are probably socialist in origin; regardless, it certainly helped me to frame this blog.

Hayek (1944), a key influence on Government economic policy, argued that socialism is: “the destruction of the indispensable environment in which the traditional moral values alone can flourish, namely personal freedom”. It is worth noting that this tells us what freedom is not; it does not tell us what it is.

Hayek’s book, The road to serfdom, suggests that planning leads to serfdom: ‘the more the state plans’, the more difficult planning becomes for the individual”. At face value it is true, the more the individual is told what to do the less freedom they have to do it for themselves. Yet, it is a simplistic argument, which assumes individuals act with complete authority except for that exerted by the state. It does not account for the cultural power asserted by those with influence: newspaper proprietors, influencers in the media, large corporates etc. Of course, he was writing at a time when state planning was widespread and socialism increasingly influential amongst policy-makers. It is probably true to say that Hayek, who was teaching at the LSE at the time, was somewhat unfashionable in the 60s.

Harvey argues that right-wing commentators successfully pursue a socialism verse freedom argument and is keen to show that freedom and socialism are entirely compatible. He argues that the left need to take back the language of freedom. Unfortunately, Prof Harvey is not entirely successful. Quoting Marx, he suggests that it is only when material necessity ends that “the true realm of individual freedom could begin”. Like Hayek, this tells us what freedom is not; it does not say what it is. 

Harvey creates a freedom/unfreedom dialectic:

So, on the one side, we are building cities and building housing in a way which provides tremendous freedom for the upper classes, at the same time as it actually produces un-freedom for the rest of the population. This is what I think was meant when Marx did make that kind of famous comment that the realm of necessity actually has to be overcome in order for the realm of freedom to be achieved. 

It seems to me that passages like these not only represent examples of anti-capitalism that the government wants to ban from schools, but they also represent a divisive victim narrative. Some are unfree because they do not have access to the gleaming cities and big houses that others have. This is a specifically Hegelian approach (Gilles Deleuze, 1983), which is vulnerable to critique because it makes a clear disjuncture between the classes. The problem for the left is the relative complexity of pitching one person’s individual freedom against another. As opposed to the right pitching individual freedom against an impersonal state.

Thankfully, I do not imagine Prof Harvey will be insulted by accusations of Hegelianism. I think his reading of Marx is very dialectical. Nor will he be unduly concerned about accusations of anti-capitalism when those accusations are aimed at a narrative designed to defend the underdog.

Prof Harvey gives some positive definitions in the podcast like freedom is the collective effort to produce life chances open to us all. Marx echoes that definition, especially in his early work; it is hard to imagine anyone disagreeing. His most positive and concrete proposal, however, is that everyone should receive the basics necessities of life as a right. The right to shelter, food, education etc. but it is still not clear what freedom is and that is the point.

The winner in this dialectic will have as vague a definition of freedom as possible. It is useful to construct a vague half imagined sunlit uplands, while being extremely clear about what is currently causing our unfreedom or dissatisfaction. Arguably, the right has an easier argument to make because of its simplicity; unfortunately, reclaiming the language of freedom may not be as easy as it sounds  


Department for Education, 2020. Plan your relationships, sex and health curriculum. [Online] Available at:
[Accessed 21 10 2020].

Gilles Deleuze, 1983. Nietzsche and Philosophy. Paris: Athlone Press.

Harvey, D., 2020. Anti-Capitalist Chronicles. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 21 10 2020].

Hayek, F., 1944. The Road to Serfdom. New York: Routledge.

Our Creative Selves

This blog intends to wish our readers a happy and prosperous New Year and to offer a reminder of our recent issue, Our Creative Selves, published at the end of last year.

When the editorial team (Emma Gillaspy, Anna Hunter, Neil Withnell, Chrissi Nerantzi) started work on this themed issue of PRISM, more than 12 months ago, we could not have envisaged the world into which this collection of work would emerge. The effects of the COVID19 pandemic have been – and continue to be – felt around the world, and have been transformative with regard to the way in which Higher Education is delivered. As the established, time-worn ‘norms’ of Higher Education have become untenable, there has been a call to educators in all countries to truly engage with their creative selves. Whilst isolated, remote, worried and distracted, we all have to learn to thrive in the new possibilities of digital learning environments, in order to deliver the most meaningful educational experience possible to our students.

As we set out our plans for this PRISM themed issue, we were certain of one thing: that it should focus on the notion of individual creativity, by inviting contributors and readers alike to explore what creativity means for them. Now more than ever, we see the importance of harnessing our creative selves – in our work, in our personal creative spaces, and in our responses to the world around us.

The authors that have contributed to this special edition each explore how creativity has facilitated engagement, connection, personal and professional development, and ultimately the way in which creativity has shaped their worlds. These contributions were produced and submitted in late 2019, and speak to a world before COVID; yet despite the fact that all of the papers in this collection were written before the onset of the pandemic, they all thematically centre on a number of core principles that are perhaps even more relevant as we navigate the uncertain territory of 2020 and beyond.

These themes are encapsulated within this word cloud; we invite you to reflect on these and from them create your own meanings, as are relevant to you and your practice:

Within this themed issue we present a treasure trove of creative practice, drawn from a range of practitioner stories and creative applications, across a range of disciplines and professional areas.

All of these accounts showcase a creative idea, practice, intervention or experience, which has enabled the authors to develop their creative confidence through taking risks and being committed to their creative practice.

Link to issue Vol3 No 1 (2020):

On the educated person in the Post-capitalist digital society

In the midst of a crisis, it is tempting to look to the past for answers. Perhaps, unsurprisingly Karl Marx is making a comeback not least because we have not yet fully recovered from the 2007-2008 meltdown.

As George Magnus described, almost ten years ago:

Policy makers struggling to understand the barrage of financial panics, protests and other ills afflicting the world would do well to study the works of a long-dead economist: Karl Marx. The sooner they recognize we’re facing a once-in-a-lifetime crisis of capitalism, the better equipped they will be to manage a way out of it.

(Bloomberg Business Week, Give Karl Marx a Chance to Save the World Economy. August 28, 2011).

Alright, Marx was wrong; capitalism has not fallen, but he did bequeath tools to consider the current economic state of the world. Back to the future? Maybe, but we do require novel ways of addressing global economic change post-covid19. Suffice to say education will be central to it.

As Peter Drucker put it:

(…) one thing is predictable: the greatest change will be the change in knowledge; in its form and content; in its meaning; in its responsibility; and in what it means to be an Educated Person.

So, what will the nature of change be and what has it to do with Marxism? At the risk of being simplistic, Marxists argue that capitalist economic models work by exploiting labour and material resources. In an ideal world, this leads to better products and services because it encourages innovation and risk; the surplus is re-invested to create more wealth and prosperity.

However, there are inherent contradictions; first, those resources are finite. If success is dependent upon exploiting labour and material resources, then how do you measure success? When workers cannot afford to live, or the planet is not able to sustain life? Second, there is nothing to prevent those who generate a surplus from taking it for themselves. Or, not re-investing it in the kind of technology and human resource, which leads to improved productivity, higher wages and increased profits. It is a vicious circle but also a familiar narrative.

In the past, scientific innovation has come to the rescue, green initiatives such as solar and wind-generated energy replacing fossil fuel is just one example; however, science is struggling to keep up because the pace of change is increasing.

Srnicek and Williams describe the extent of the digital revolution:

The most recent wave of automation is poised to change this distribution of the labour market drastically, as it comes to encompass every aspect of the economy: data collection (radio-frequency identification, big data); new kinds of production (the flexible production of robots, additive manufacturing, automated fast food); services (AI customer assistance, care for the elderly); decision-making (computational models, software agents); financial allocation (algorithmic trading); and especially distribution (the logistics revolution, self-driving cars, drone container ships and automated warehouses).

In every single function of the economy – from production to distribution to management to retail – we see large-scale tendencies towards automation.

As Paul Mason describes, this creates new contradictions that capitalist systems have to negotiate. 

The main contradiction today is between the possibility of free, abundant goods and information and a system of monopolies, banks and governments trying to keep things private, scarce and commercial. Everything comes down to the struggle between the network and the hierarchy, between old forms of society moulded around capitalism and new forms of society that prefigure what comes next.

More pressingly, what happens to human resource when a rapidly automating system designed to exploit it no longer needs it? On the flip side, could workers benefit from this paradigm shift and become more autonomous, enjoying a better work-life balance? Perhaps salvation for capitalism could be the recognition that there is profit in well-being and enhanced productivity beyond the marketing opportunities.

There is a second related problem for capitalism. If the capitalist economic equilibrium is being-disrupted, then so are its democratic processes. Tribal loyalties are changing evidenced by the collapse of the red wall, in the 2020 UK general election. The reasons for the collapse are complicated, but the party that traditionally represented labour seemingly cannot rely on its support anymore. The main principle of a two-party parliamentary democracy is both parties can win, or at least provide checks and balances when in opposition. As Iversen and Soskice point out, there is a complementarity between capital and labour in capitalist democracies. The relationship between the two is always evolving, but what happens when it faces permanent disruption? Answers on a post-card.

Of course, we have been here before, Engels predicted the end of capitalism over 150 years ago; he was wrong. Capitalism may yet survive, but the Educated Person will still be central to its survival.

If we can ignore the provocative nature of such a concept, we can perhaps ponder what constitutes it? In my view, the Educated Person is not a category with some included and others not; it is a way of knowing applied to a multiplicity of human endeavours. A healthy democracy cannot afford to leave a sizeable number of its citizens behind.

In his book, Drucker identifies two contentious opposing categories positing a view on the nature of the Educated Person. On one side, there is the post-Marxists, radical feminists and other antis who argue against the idea of an Educated Person because each gender, ethnic group, race, minority, requires its own separate culture and identity.

On the other, are the humanists who scorn the present system demanding a return to the nineteenth century, to the Liberal Arts, the Classics, the German Gebildete Mensch. Drucker argues that both are wrong; the knowledge society must have at its core the concept of the Educated Person precisely because it is global: in its money, its economics, its careers, its technology, its central issues, and, above all, in its information.

According to Drucker, the Educated Person will need to appreciate other cultures and traditions citing the example of the great heritages of China, Japan; in addition to, the philosophers and great religions of the Orient and Islam. The Educated Person will receive a far less exclusive and traditionally classical education than the Liberal Education of the Humanists; for example, training in social perception would be as useful as statistical analysis.

Drucker imagines this new kind of person emerging as a hybrid fusion of the managerial and intellectual classes. The ability of the manager to apply knowledge combined with the intellectual’s use of pure concepts. Such an individual would be the opposite of the polymath; those rare people who are simultaneously expert in Mandarin Chinese and nuclear physics. The Educated Person would, on the contrary, be able to run with the output of expert research; for example, applying chaos theory to economics, data mining to social history or neuroscience to customer service.

In purely curriculum terms, the Educated Person needs to understand the epistemic and disciplinary aspects of a field more than its knowledge base. More than that, the Educated Person needs to understand its digital landscape and be able to leverage an extensive personal network to interact with others on its unfolding paradigms.


Technology will eventually pose a serious threat to the capitalist economy and its democratic processes. It will facilitate the spreading of fake news by uber-networks of political actors both for and against the status quo. It will also disrupt the relations between capital and labour; neither market nor state will be able to prevent such disruption because they are inextricably linked.

The Post-capitalist digital economy, therefore, cannot be built on the opposing ideologies of market or state but, as Drucker points out, it needs the ability to fuse:

(… ) separate traditions onto a common and shared commitment to values, onto a common concept of excellence, and onto mutual respect.

Individuals cannot resist change, but the power of a critically aware networked collective will protect the many from the few. The challenge facing education is not only to deliver the knowledge and skills required to drive this new Post-capitalist paradigm but also to educate the future citizen to participate in future democracy without traditional tribal loyalties. 

The sad reality is that education cannot implement a simple algorithm. Worse, it surprised few when it all went wrong. As ministers seek to divert blame you do wonder who is going to inspire change?

Your guess is as good as mine!


Most of the ideas are derived from the following thinkers:

Drucker, P. F. (1994). Post-capitalist society. Routledge.

Fuchs, C., & Mosco, V. (2016). Introduction: Marx is back–the importance of Marxist theory and research for critical communication studies today. In Marx in the age of digital capitalism (pp. 1-21). 

Iversen, T., & Soskice, D. (2020). Response to Carles Boix’s review of Democracy and Prosperity: Reinventing Capitalism through a Turbulent Century. Perspectives on Politics18(2), 547-548.

Marx, K. (2018). Das kapital. e-artnow.

Mason, P. (2016). Postcapitalism: A guide to our future. Macmillan.

Srnicek, N., & Williams, A. (2015). Inventing the future: Postcapitalism and a world without work. Verso Books.

‘Developing a creative pedagogy to understand the university experience of non-traditional students’: the authors’ story


Someone should write a paper on chance meetings in academia. It could be called Facets of Serendipity which would immediately make it sound much more serious and impressive than ‘I bumped into Joe Bloggs.’ Why? Because it is through chance meetings and the formation of personal bonds that truly creative and innovative partnerships are made and, indeed, sustained. Most universities seem to view innovative partnership working as being something to do with knowledge exchange, typically between the higher education and business sector, which will, in turn, result in income generation. Hurrah! then for the unplanned encounter at a conference, the hurried conversation by the photocopier or, in our case, a very dull training session where two of the authors met, and in response to a questionable PowerPoint slide simultaneously uttered ‘Bollocks!

At the time, we, the authors, were doing very different work. On the surface, it would seem that criminal justice has little in common with creative writing and ordinarily, we would never meet. But our chance meeting, alongside a shared interest in people and their stories, brought our personal and professional curiosity together. Through conversation and sharing our stories, we became more than a facilitator of writing and better able to explore the realms of criminal justice through a creative lens.

Since September 2016, Dr Helena Gosling and Professor Lol Burke have delivered a university-based Learning Together programme for males and females who have personal and/or professional experience of the criminal justice system, to learn alongside postgraduate students from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). It is the only initiative based within a higher education setting that works alongside criminal justice services to create a community of practice, populated by people with academic, professional and/or lived experience of criminal justice (Gosling et al., 2020). As the article, published by PRISM highlights, students were keen to share stories about their life experiences but there was nowhere in formal taught sessions to capture such insight or, perhaps more importantly, reflect them back to the tellers. Rather, the stories were loitering in the shadows of lectures and seminars – which felt like a wasted opportunity.

Subsequently, thanks to that one chance meeting, the authors worked together to integrate creative response sessions to provide a space for all Learning Together students to share and capture stories. Not planning beyond that very basic notion meant that we did not have any preconceived ideas of where the research was going to take us – which feels innovative and creative in itself. And credit where credit is due, University managers allowed us to find the time and space to accommodate this investigation. What we later discovered, over two separate iterations of the project, was that we had created a space where Learning Together participants could establish their own, individually created sense of belonging. Again, you may ask, why is this important? Well because (based on our experience) if a student with lived experience of the criminal justice system is not confident in their newly acquired role as a student, then sharing and telling stories of their interactions with the wider world in their tried and tested role of human being helps to build confidence and indeed creative capital: the capacity to imagine and express new possibilities through creative activity (Creating Quality, 2012). We are clear in our position that students are the experts in their own lives and their lived experience has value. Plus, above all else, they were, as Adiche (2009) said ‘more than one story,’ and in curating these stories, our students were in charge of reshaping their identity and university experience.

Through the medium of creative pedagogy students engage in an ongoing process of storytelling: (re)framing narrative that not only works towards building the authentic self (Vanlit, 2017) but allows students to develop ideas, which means that they understand, trust and respect themselves (Vanlit, 2017). This blog post is an amuse bouche to whet the appetite. It’s not written in formal academic language because we did not start off sharing stories in formal academic language and our co-story tellers, the Learning Together students who participated in the sessions, did not use that ‘telephone voice’ either. We hope that you decide to read the paper but, if not, please take one thing from this: at the next conference (Zoom or otherwise), or meeting with a colleague from outside your own sphere of work, share a story and encourage that other person to do the same. Make a connection on a human level. Swap ideas. Listen. Discuss. Be interested and brave. Above all else, use the phrase ‘Shall we…?’ and see where it takes you.

Reference List

Adichie, C. (2009) The Danger of a Single Story – Transcript courtesy of TED. Available on-line at: accessed on 24.01.2020]

Creating Quality (2012) The Concept of Creative Capital. Blog Post. Available on-line at: [accessed on 14.01.2020]

Gosling. H., Burke, L., and MacLennan, S. (2020) Developing a creative pedagogy to understand the university experience of non-traditional students. Available on-line at: file:///C:/Users/sschgosl/Downloads/349-Article%20Text-1776-2-10-20200718%20(3).pdf [accessed on 29.07.2020]

Vanlint, N. (2017) The Positive Benefits of Creativity. Life Labs. Available on-line at: [accessed on 14.01.2020]

Developing links with academics from working class backgrounds in other countries


Working class backgrounds, and those that have battled through them, have similarities. Their willingness to fight to survive and fight to be recognised, is second to none. More often than not those innate characteristics remain with those individuals and drive them to be focussed, compassionate and empathetic academics. Bringing as many academics with lived experience in this area from across the globe, will increase the quality and authenticity of our work, will allow for greater collaboration and will hopefully pave the way for others, from similar backgrounds, to join the rough but rewarding world of academia.

As a child born into a battling, lower class family, in the wrong part of town, the idea of working in academia is as fanciful an idea as you could cobble together. My mother cleaned other people’s houses and my father was a self-employed butcher, who not only used my mother, my sibling and myself as punching bags, but also used alcohol and infidelity to hide his own issues. Getting out of there, gaining a doctorate and being in a position to try and influence change would be a 1000-1 shot and on par with seeing a unicorn.

This is not a unique type of story and is one that a large number of the people in our group probably share in some way or another. We faced the same challenges, faced the same fights to be relevant and still fight some of those challenges today. Many in the world would refer to us as being ‘working class’.  The stories are similar and regardless of where we are around the world, the way we are approached to collaborate and share our lived experiences should be considered and promoted.

Understanding that academics, with working class backgrounds, have shared fighting qualities and in many instances, the desire to improve the world and lives of others, it is important that we are bought together. The ability to share our battles, share our lessons and support the ongoing battles of each other is essential. The most effective way to do this is through online engagement and encouraging collaboration and expansion of worldwide networks.

The ability for academics who may not have attended private schools, had two parents while growing up, experienced abuse of some form or had to skip meals because their parents couldn’t afford to feed them, and who are often labeled as being ‘working class’, to find like-minded, driven people is essential, yet difficult and requires concerted effort. The development of online sessions through the use of technologies such as Zoom or Teams that are based in London are effective for people in similar time zones, but not for people in places such as Australia, New Zealand and other areas. Although we can watch the online sessions when the time zone suits, we miss out on the engagement, collaborative opportunities and the sharing of ideas. It is often the time before and after formal sessions that the building of relationships occurs, a key element missing with the timing of these sessions. Further developing and incorporating the same type of sessions, at different times, could encourage a new audience and could open the group up to new opportunities, possibly being missed. Although, potentially making it challenging for some of the European members of the group with a diverse time, the sessions would allow for overseas members to actively be involved and open other opportunities yet to be explored or considered.

Meaningful collaboration is also essential. To remain employed in academia, or to gain employment in academia, finding a group of people to work and collaborate with is key. The ability to allow non formal collaborations to build through online discussions, a collaboration ‘job’ board or a designated email blast sharing collaboration opportunities, will assist the building of networks and the breaking down of geographic borders and limitations. The ability for academics to work together, write together and research together from across the globe will not only improve the quality of our work but also open the doors to funding and publication opportunities across the world.

The importance of increasing opportunities for working class academics will not only increase the quality of research being produced across the globe, but will also pave the way for others who face diversity in younger years to reach academia. Imagine a young student from a working class background, possibly from a single parent home, maybe living on a farm with working class parents or with a parent with a criminal record. Now imagine that young students burning desire to go to university, study and maybe even become an expert in a specific area such as education, medicine or even law. Now, finally, think what would happen to their dreams if they thought that their parents could not afford for them to attend or that their challenges were so intense that they had these dreams unfulfilled. An unfair situation for any young person, however, with the sharing and development of the Working Class Academics group across the globe, these young people will be exposed to success stories that may prove to be the role model and difference they are looking for. This group could realistically be life changing for many.

The horrors of Covid 19 have fast tracked many into the learning of new online technologies and the utilization of the protocols involved in using them. The time is now to expand the focus and message of the Working Class Academic group. Online methods are now second nature to us all and the opportunity to encourage others to join this group is also now. With the tertiary teaching system across the world going through immense changes due to Covid 19, more and more exceptionally talented academics with working class backgrounds and lives may be lost to the academic world. We need to reach out, find each other and it is simple when someone does, buy in, share your ideas, collaborate with someone you haven’t worked with before and start writing now. Together we are stronger, together we are better and together we can share our lived experiences with the world.



An invitation to join us at Prism


PRISM: Casting New Light on Learning, Theory & Practice, invites applications for Section Editors, Copyeditors, and Reviewers to join the journal’s editorial team and wider collective. We are seeking:

➢ At least four new Section Editors
➢ At least four new Copyeditors, and
➢ At least six new Reviewers

All who apply will be considered. A commitment to mutuality, collective work, conviviality, and punctuality is required. Previous editorial, copyediting or reviewing experience would be appreciated but is not necessarily essential, as the PRISM team will offer mentorship and support to build the relevant skills and expertise. It is expected that applicants will be able to demonstrate recent experience of writing and successfully publishing work in peer reviewed journals. Applicants – for all positions – would normally be expected to commit to the respective role for a minimum period of 3 years.

PRISM, a journal for the theory and practice of education is run entirely by volunteers – no member of the editorial or wider publishing team (including the editor in chief and deputy editor) receives remuneration of any kind. This is because we believe that the journal should be as free from ‘non-academic’ external pressures and influences as possible. PRISM has a diverse remit, it is necessarily eclectic, inherently radical, and unashamedly utopian; the disciplinary scope of PRISM is wide-ranging and encourages submissions from a wide variety of scholars and practitioners.

The journal recognises the breadth and scope of learning across diverse locations, educators, academics, researchers and thinkers. PRISM supports the development of an expanded field of pedagogy, allowing reflection and critical examination of practice, theory and policy through a spectrum of intra, cross and anti-disciplinary methodologies and theoretical approaches. Whilst PRISM is open to submissions from academics at all levels of expertise and experience, we also provide a space for emergent thinkers and practitioners from across formal and informal, marginal and traditional spaces. Theoretical and methodological pluralism is encouraged.

PRISM uses the Open Journal Systems (OJS) for managing and publishing its scholarly articles; OJS is open source software developed and released by the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). PRISM provides immediate open access to its content with no submission or publications fees; all articles are published under a Creative Commons Licence, and the author(s) maintain(s) copyright control over their article. PRISM is also indexed in the world’s largest open-access database: DOAJ (the Directory of Open Access Journals). DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that selects, indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.

To be considered for one of the positions, please send the following (as Word document attachments) to the email address:, by 23.59 on Thursday the 23rd of July:

  • A full academic CV
  • An Expression of Interest (500 words maximum) which should address the following:
    • Why you would like to join the PRISMEditorial Collective?
    • A brief list of topics (and points of support) that you feel your expertise and experience/areas of interest would contribute to the post
    • A few sentences indicating what you see to be the priorities and/or issues emerging in relation to education (that PRISM should consider supporting)

More details on the available positions

PRISM Section Editors

Section Editors (SE) are assigned draft manuscripts (submitted by authors) by the journal managing editors; once assigned, SEs become responsible for the consideration, reviewing and publishing decision for the article. The SE will provisionally judge the remit of the assigned article in relation to the publishing parameters and expectations of the journal, and also the academic quality of draft paper. If the SE deems it suitable, they will then assign it to two of the journal peer reviewers; the reviewers then read and scrutinise it for academic, disciplinary and methodological robustness. The reviewers then produce and submit comments to the SE and make a recommendation as to whether they consider the article publishable (or not). The SE will then make an editorial decision as to whether they/PRISM should accept the paper ‘in principle’ pending amendments, or alternatively, reject the paper. If the SE decides to accept the draft paper ‘in principle’ pending revisions, they will enter in to dialogue with the author, to establish a timeline for the revised paper to be submitted. The SE will then see the paper through to the copyedit stage.

The role of the Section Editor/SE will involve supporting the journal through the following:

• Engaging in the practice of mutual support, congeniality, and collective work
• Communicating with managing editors, authors, and referees in a timely and constructive manner
• Liaising with the PRISM editorial collective and contributing towards the overall direction, philosophy, and practice of the journal
• Working autonomously with an average of two to four articles at a time – to steer them through the editorial process
• Performing editorial duties associated with issuing decisions on manuscripts and submissions
• Overseeing the whole publication process of a submitted manuscript, from submission, to review, to acceptance (or decline), to copyediting; and sending accepted/copyedited articles thought to the production stage

PRISM Copyeditors

Copyediting is the process of checking for mistakes, inconsistencies, and repetition in papers that have been accepted for publication. During the copyedit process, the manuscript is polished before being sent on to the production stage. We feel that it is important to point out that copyeditors are not simply glorified spell checkers; copyeditors are ‘partners in publication’. The copyeditor ensures that the manuscript tells the best possible story and attains the required publication standards expected by the journal. Copyeditors focus on both the small details of the text (spelling, referencing, and References) and also the whole article by fine-tuning the grammar, structure and the coherence and flow of the article itself. Copyeditors must be meticulous and technical, whilst also being mindful of the writing style of the author, and the overarching themes and points of discussion in the wider manuscript.

PRISM Reviewers

A cornerstone of any academic journal is its team of valuable and dedicated article reviewers. The primary role of the reviewer is to ensure that the academic standards of draft the article are credible, ethical and robust enough for publication in the journal. The reviewers role is to support and advise the Section Editor to uphold the integrity of the journal. In conjunction with this, the function of the peer reviewer (as part of a collegiate approach), is not to demonstrate the reviewer’s proficiency by harshly identifying any perceived flaws in the paper. Reviewers have a responsibility to identify strengths in the paper and provide constructive comments to help the author resolve weaknesses in the work. A reviewer should always respect the intellectual independence of the author.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the available positions in more detail, please contact:

Dr Dave Allan, PRISM Editor-in-Chief (, and
Dr Craig Hammond, PRISM Deputy Editor (

‘The mission of integration’, repression, subjugation and discipline in civic nationalist education policy and practice


The geopolitical transformations that took place in the wake of the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks have been marked by the end of multi culturalism in many western democracies and the emergence of a defensive, exclusionary politics of national identity. Political debates have pivoted around the incompatibility of Islam with democratic values and widespread anxiety about refugees and asylum seekers, ‘bearers of alien customs’ (Virdee and McGeever, 2018, 7) crossing the borders of the ‘Western citadel’ (Beck, 2002, 49). In Europe and the UK, the immigration debate has led to the introduction of citizenship tests, language and civic values exams and other tests of naturalization and compatibility with Western liberal values.

In the UK this hardening of national discourse has shaped educational policy and practice effectively making education a securitized site of the domestic war on terror. In 2012 the introduction of fundamental British values as a requirement of the regulatory framework of the teachers professional standards (DfE, 2014) and the imposition of the Prevent duty (2015) on teachers to give due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism have altered the relationship between teachers and students so that teachers have become the de facto instruments of state security. Significantly there has been no public democratic debate about what makes these values British or indeed what Britishness is. Instead, the definition was taken from government counter terrorist legislation which also defines extremism as opposition to fundamental British values (HM Government, 2015).

These developments are part of a wider civic nationalist (Ignatieff, 1993) turn in education policy that opposes those who adhere to state sanctioned civic values to those who are positioned as suspect because of cultural difference.

In 2018 OfSTED Chief, Amanda Spielman, stated that young people in Britain are vulnerable to exploitation by extremists and therefore require the teaching of British values, because, ‘if we leave these topics to the likes of the EDL and BNP on the one hand and Islamists on the other, then the mission of integration will fail’ (Spielman, in Weale, 2018).

In her 2019 speech at the Wellington Festival of Education, she reiterated this message stating that ‘it is so important that all these values are taught, understood and lived’ and that ‘school is how and where we make sure that every young British citizen ends up with the same level of understanding’ (Spielman, in Weale, 2018).

The new civic nationalism represents an exclusionary liberalism, demonstrated by Spielman’s insistence that OfSTED inspectors question female Muslim primary school children about the Muslim veil and her warning that religious minorities cannot expect ‘cultural entitlements’ (Weale, 2018).

In summary, what these policy developments amount to are an intensification of the State’s gaze upon non- Christian, primarily Muslim students and faith schools. Since Tony Blair’s premiership (1997-2007), UK government policy making has focussed on shared national values and community cohesion to address the problems of communities characterised as living ‘parallel lives’ (Cantle, 2001). In his 2011 Munich speech Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron argued for ‘muscular liberalism’ in place of the ‘passive tolerance’ of multiculturalism (Cameron,, 2011). This policy discourse portrays the UK as under attack by fundamentalist unreason, but from a critical perspective it translates as the racialization of Islam and disavowal of pluralism. The role of the State has shifted from ‘care taker’ to ‘traffic cop’ (Goldberg in Kapoor et al, 2013). From my Foucauldian point of view, what I see at work is biopolitical power that displaces responsibility from the State onto certain target groups that it seeks to regulate, and discipline for its own political purposes. The riots in northern towns and cities in 2001 that gave us community cohesion policy had their roots in decades of structural racism and underinvestment, not in ethnic or cultural difference. Similarly the war in Iraq created a sectarian conflict that in the words of former MI5 Chief, Lady Manningham Buller ‘radicalised…a whole generation of young people’ (Norton-Taylor, 2010).

The message conveyed by fundamental British values is integrationist, ‘become one of us’, your crime is ‘not to be like us’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 2013, 2008). What is required now is a sea change in education policy that abandons strategies that exacerbate racial and religious inequalities. Critical multicultural pedagogical approaches are required that acknowledge students’ lived experiences and their political agency. Such change is unlikely any time soon[1], but this should not preclude the formation of anti-racist educational alliances between students, teachers and researchers at the micro political level in order to report on the effects of racialising education policy and to foreground the experiences of minoritized groups. As Foucault argues, this is the task of critical scholarship, to unmask the effects of power as it operates obscurely, invisibly through the working of policies that appear neutral, independent and benign (Foucault, in Chomsky and Foucault, 2006).


Beck, U., 2002. The Terrorist Threat: World Risk Society Revisited, Theory, Culture & Society 19(4): 39-55

Cameron, D., 2011. PM’s Speech at Munich Security Conference. Accessed 01/06/20

Cantle, E., 2001. Community Cohesion: Report of the Independent Review Team. London, Home Office

Chomsky, N. and Foucault, M. 2006. The Chomsky-Foucault Debate. New York, the New York Press

Deleuze, G., and Guattari, F. 2013. A Thousand Plateaus. London, Bloomsbury

Great Britain Parliament. 2015. Counter-Terrorism and Security Act. London, TSO

HM Government. 2015. Prevent Duty Guidance: For England and Wales. London, Home Office

Ignatieff, M. 1993, Blood and Belonging, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Kapoor, N., Kalra, V., and Rhodes, J. 2013. The State of Race. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Weale, S. 2018. OfSTED chief accuses minority groups of entitlement in hijab row

Virdee, S. and McGeever, B. 2018. Racism, Crisis, Brexit. Ethnic and Racial Studies 41(10): 1802-1819




[1] It is worth noting the controversial government counter terrorist Prevent strategy is currently under review and due to report to Parliament in August 2020. The review has been dogged by delays and setbacks, only recently appointing a Chair after the previous reviewer was compelled to stand down due to concerns about bias.

Workload Does Not Equal Productivity: A Look at My Experience in English and American Education Systems


Editor’s note

It strikes us, at Prism, that a journal purporting to cast new light upon educational practice should reflect the authentic voice of those under-represented. In this case, a third year student at Manchester Metropolitan University, Shasta Stephens, offers an interesting insight into two different education systems. Each education system has to balance the need to provide a rigorous education with the well-being of the student body.

Perhaps more importantly, as humanity is increasingly challenged by the changes that globalisation and technological innovation brings, an education system has to preserve the well-being of the self.

Here, Shasta, provide an interesting insight into two very different educational experiences as we wonder if either of them meets the needs of tomorrow’s  students.

Workload Does Not Equal Productivity: A Look at My Experience in English and American Education Systems

 I am an upcoming third-year student at Manchester Metropolitan University and as of recent events, I’ve had time to properly reflect on my experiences in education. As an international student from the United States, I can confidently say the culture of the U.K. education system is a complete 180-degree flip from the states’. I’ve been educated in the states since I was five up till graduating at eighteen, excluding the four months of study abroad I took part in. As I’m coming to the end of my undergraduate degree, I am without a doubt so happy with my decision to study outside the U.S. With that being said, I am also finally appreciating what the U.S. system taught me, in a non-academic sense.

A good portion of my reflecting took me back to high school. Not only was I a usual confused and moody teenager, but I was juggling honours and advanced placement classes on top of an already heavy curriculum with volunteering, cheerleading, and a part-time job on top of it all. I was pushed to my mental, emotional, and physical limits throughout – still not sure how I managed to get through it while earning a spot in the top 10% of my year. My high school was very fast-paced, intense, and extremely stressful the closer you got to taking your ACT and SAT exams. I won’t even mention the month before graduation. I was so used to this type of learning and ‘productivity’ that when I got the opportunity to study abroad in England for a semester, I had major culture shock – and not regarding the disgrace that is beans on toast. When I began the academic year in September, my expectations were that it would be a similar level of pressure and workload, but I was completely taken aback at the almost relaxed nature of the sixth form. Instead of receiving daily homework from each class, I maybe had three take-home assignments altogether. Adding to the disbelief, we had breaks scheduled throughout the day and a designated common room to take them – unheard of.

Fast-forward six years and I am finishing my second year at Manchester Metropolitan University. I can say the four months at sixth form certainly prepared me for the laidback ways of English university life. I appreciate all the extra free time I have to work on my studies and other side projects, as I would not have gotten this at an American university. This past year we had six pieces of coursework and two exams, my eighteen-year-old self in her senior year of high school laughs at this, but I am incredibly grateful because I can work hard with more time to do so. That means less stress and more sleep, something American students are not getting. I see this in my friends from back home, they are struggling just to turn in their assignments on time. On top of having daily projects, they must study for end-of-week quizzes and monthly exams. A lot of them are failing classes if they haven’t dropped out already.

I see the privilege I have in attending a U.K. university and I also see the benefit I have had from American education. It’s taught me to plan, prepare, stay organised, and always have my assignments completed in advance. I think this background of American high school gave me the tools I needed for staying ahead of my peers and my attitude of striving for the best. This is a problem that I see in a lot of my university peers. Since we typically have a few pieces of coursework throughout the year and usually a month or two to complete them, many students leave their assignments to the last possible moment. When I say last moment, I mean the day it’s due. It’s as though they have no idea what to do with the free time they have. Time that could be used for assignments or revising is spent doing other activities, none of which university is involved. To be completely fair to the higher education system, I can’t attribute this fault to them. I think these types of skills should be implemented during further education.

To reiterate, I whole-heartedly appreciate the experiences of both cultures that I’ve had. Although both have their faults, mainly the American idea of ‘over-working equals better productivity’, I believe I have learned and benefited from each in the best way. It took me a while to figure out the good and bad parts of each and which skills and practices would take me where I want to go, but I got there with help. My experiences in each education system have been wildly different yet I believe it worked in my favour; I have the drive to do the best I can and have a killer work ethic, but I know when to sit back and take a break. The most important thing I’ve learned is that being stressed and constantly working doesn’t mean anything is getting done – except maybe an increased risk of mental health issues.