Global transformations of the state, governance and teachers’ labour: putting Bernstein’s conceptual grammar to work

Susan L. Robertson, Tore Sorensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents and engages with Basil Bernstein’s rich conceptual grammar in order to generate a sociological account of the outcomes for teachers’ work, identity and social class, of strategic shifts in governance to the global scale. Our aim is to develop a two-way conversation between Bernstein’s conceptual grammar and how best to theorise the nature of the social regulation of teachers as a result of the dominance of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in setting the rules for pedagogic governance of teachers through its Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). We show that important functions for symbolic agents have been relocated to the economic arena away from the state, as well as being rescaled to sit within the governing ambit of the OECD. We also reflect on the prominence of constructivism in TALIS as a preferred pedagogy and the eschewing of disciplinary knowledge as the basis of expertise. We ask what this new market identity means for teacher knowledge, consciousness, identity, the division of labour, and the social base.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-488
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Educational Research Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bernstein
  • labour teachers
  • OECD
  • pedagogic device
  • pedagogic identities

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