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Teaching policy and practice: early years, neoliberalism and communities of practice


  • Ewan Ingleby


This article explores the proposal that the emergence of the concept of communities of practice in early years education (with children aged from birth to 8) is symptomatic of neoliberal educational policies. A community of practice is defined by Lave and Wenger [ Situated learning-legitimate peripheral participation . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1991)] and Wenger [ Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1998)] as a way of thinking about how social practices are gathered together and how people learn to participate in them. Drawing on the work of Bourdieu, Foucault and Weber, this study deconstructs the neoliberal early years in the educational context. The policies within this context appear to be tied together by philosophical strands that are based on marketisation, discourse and the setting of bureaucratic standards. The consequences of neoliberalism for early years are interpreted through a textured analytical approach that draws on the work of key thinkers in the social sciences. The article explores the current debates over the benefits of establishing communities of practice in the early years. The concept of communities of practice is considered by discussing the extent to which the ideal is symptomatic of neoliberal educational policies in the early years.

Suggested Citation

  • Ewan Ingleby, 2013. "Teaching policy and practice: early years, neoliberalism and communities of practice," Contemporary Social Science, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 120-129, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocxx:v:8:y:2013:i:2:p:120-129
    DOI: 10.1080/21582041.2012.751505

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