Corporatising school leadership through hysteresis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article builds on the established notion that schools are hierarchised
through policy, accruing different amounts and types of symbolic capital, by
examining how this is reflected in the habitus of the leaders of new, privileged
school types. The paper uses Bourdieu’s concept of hysteresis, or a dislocation
between the habitus that formerly produced success in the field and the habitus
currently necessary following changes in field conditions. Using crafted narrative
accounts from two headteachers, I argue that rather than simply being an effect
of change, hysteresis may be an actively sought outcome whereby the state
intervenes in a field — education — to deprivilege welfarist leaders and privilege
corporatised leaders through structurally facilitating their habitus and
mandating its dispositions for the field. However, insofar as deprivileged actors
may draw strength and an identity from rejecting corporatisation, the concept of
hysteresis must be extended to include notions of agentic dissidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1054-1067
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number7
Early online date31 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2016


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