Reproducing vulnerability: a Bourdieuian analysis of readers who struggle in neoliberal times

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The neoliberal agenda promotes education as a route toward success in university and career. However, a neoliberal economy requires large numbers of workers willing to accept low-paying, dead-end jobs. The students most likely to take these jobs are those who have struggled with literacy and so schools must, in Bourdieu’s terms, re/produce, vulnerable readers. This paper tracks the ways in which the neoliberal economy depends on these readers and how schools participate in this process of re/production: from educational policy, to instructional context, to reader identity. In contrast, from a radical democratic viewpoint, the primary goal of schooling is civic engagement and such engagement is bolstered by universal literacy. The paper concludes with alternatives in the realms of policy and classroom practice that are more likely to support teachers and students and foster radical democratic views.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)975-990
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 3 2017


  • Social reproduction
  • economic policy
  • educational policy
  • struggling readers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Reproducing vulnerability: a Bourdieuian analysis of readers who struggle in neoliberal times'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this