Cultural complicities: Elitism, heteronormativity and violence in the education marketplace

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Educational discourse in Australia has been dramatically altered in recent decades as neoliberal choice policies favouring an increasingly marketized, tiered educational landscape have witnessed a burgeoning of private sector schooling. In this climate, many perceive private sector schooling as providing moral, social and academic benefits beyond those available to students in the public sector. Amid rhetorics of excellence and accountability that pervade discourses of private schooling, however, recent high‐profile incidents of violence involving students at elite private schools provide a powerful provocation to these dominant discourses, and call into question a range of cultural practices associated with elite schooling. In this paper, the author draws on data generated from a three‐year study of sexually violent incidents that took place at an elite boys' school in Sydney, Australia and their representation in the public domain, to consider how discourses of elitism, heteronormativity and violence circulate in dialogue. Through analysis of school‐ and media‐generated texts, and interviews with a former student and parents of the school, it is argued that the education marketplace is a site of disjuncture and contradiction, in which the privileges of private school consumption are simultaneously upheld and revoked in a complex interplay of school, media and social discourse. In so doing, the author considers how a range of cultural and institutional practices are complicit in the production of violence. Copyright © 2007 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-354
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number3
Early online dateMay 2007
Publication statusPublished - 2007


Saltmarsh, S. (2007). Cultural complicities: Elitism, heteronormativity and violence in the education marketplace. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 20(3), 335-354. doi: 10.1080/09518390701281934


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