Teaching Grenfell: The Role of Emotions in Teaching and Learning for Social Change

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Although literature on the role of emotions in teaching and learning is growing, little consideration has been given to the university context, particularly from a sociological perspective. This article draws upon the online survey responses of 24 students who attended sociological classes on the Grenfell Tower fire, to explore the role emotions play in teaching that seeks to politicise learners and agitate for social change. Contributing to understandings of pedagogies of ‘discomfort’ and ‘hope’, we argue that discomforting emotions, when channelled in directions that challenge inequality, have socially transformative potential. Introducing the concept of bounded social change, however, we demonstrate how the neoliberalisation of Higher Education threatens to limit capacity for social change. In so doing, we cast teaching as central to the discipline of sociology and suggest that the creation of positive social change should be the fundamental task of sociological teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date11 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • critical pedagogies
  • discomfort
  • emotions
  • Grenfell
  • Higher Education
  • hope
  • learning
  • social change
  • teaching


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