A Pragmatist Revisioning of Resistance Theory
Resistance theorists in education urge educators to evaluate the moral and political potential of opposition in schools. The scholarship of resistance calls us to examine oppositional acts of students in school settings as moral and political expressions of oppression. Resistance theorizing over the past several decades" has not, however, adequately explored the idea that resistance is communication; that is, a means of signaling and constructing new meanings, and of building a discourse around particular problems of exclusion or inequality. In this paper, I use pragmatist theories of inquiry and communication to interpret and critique resistance theories in education. Using Dewey and Bentley's notion of transactionalism (1946), I present a theoretical framework for future inquiry into school opposition. Interpreting resistance theory through a pragmatist lens leads to a more relational reading of resistance, and can promote school-based inquiry (rather than simple avoidance or punishment) directed toward acts of resistance in schools.
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