Pedagogy and positioning theory : relationships and the formation of context

Adams, Paul (2024) Pedagogy and positioning theory : relationships and the formation of context. Pedagogy, Culture and Society. pp. 1-21. ISSN 1468-1366 (

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Structures and procedures that govern education provision inextricably generate positions for an articulation of pedagogy. Further, wider social-political and cultural-historical frames offer Discourses (after Gee 2012) that position pedagogy within educational provision. For the last 40 years neoliberalism, in various guises, has provided the backdrop to such provision and visions for, and the operationalisation of, pedagogy. Anglophonic interpretations are limited in their appraisal here through their positioning of pedagogy as ‘the methods and practices of teaching’, where context is portrayed as a series of matters to be mitigated so that quantitative uplift through learner credentialization can ensue. Alternatively, conceiving of pedagogy as ‘being in, and acting on the world, with and for others’ marks a shift both in how pedagogic moments are conceptualised and how context fits therein. Using Positioning Theory (cf. Harré and van Langenhove 1999), This paper argues that context cannot be seen as an immutable and fixed matter to which pedagogy must reply. Rather, pedagogy benefits from the realisation that moment-by-moment discursive interactions position and (re)position context in terms of its relationship with and to the worldly approach to pedagogy outlined above. The paper concludes by deploying this idea in the arena of classroom and behaviour management.