International education teachers’ experiences as an educational precariat in China

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The purpose of this paper is to extend Bunnell’s (2016) thesis that international education teachers (IETs) are forming a ‘global educational precariat’. The paper draws upon interview data from a larger study of international teachers in two international schools in Shanghai, China. In order to substantiate and develop Bunnell’s thesis, narrative inquiry was employed as a guiding methodology, which ensured that data analysis remained rooted in the participants’ lived experience but also allowed for triangulation, thereby enhancing validity. Findings confirm Bunnell’s thesis by highlighting a lack of agency, financial insecurity, and the marginalisation of professional identities as common experiences of IET precarity. The findings also challenge the notion of a global educational precariat by arguing that it may be more appropriate to conceptualise IETs in terms of a localised educational precariat rather than a global class in and of itself. The paper ends by sketching a research agenda that would involve comparing teachers’ experiences in different types of international schools in China and other contexts. Copyright © 2019 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-76
JournalJournal of Research in International Education
Issue number1
Early online dateMar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


Poole, A. (2019). International education teachers’ experiences as an educational precariat in China. Journal of Research in International Education, 18(1), 60-76.


  • International education teachers
  • International education precariat
  • The precariat
  • China


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