The neoliberal challenge to leading in disadvantaged public primary schools in Victoria, Australia

Katrina MacDonald, Jane Wilkinson, Corine Rivalland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


In this chapter, we outline the ways in which the leadership practices of three principals working in some of the most disadvantaged areas in Victoria, Australia, are structured by and structuring of a public education system heavily influenced by neoliberal ideologies and a performative accountability culture. In particular, these experiences were highly gendered, with the public education field exploiting and profiting from the ethics of care that the habitus of the women principals brought to their professional work. This amounted to invisible labor, labor that was not valued or measured in performative accountability regimes and yet was crucial in enhancing students' academic and social outcomes. The three participants were willing to resist external accountabilities to some degree, dependent on their own particular understandings of social justice, and the reflexivity of their habitus. This structuring of their habitus has implication for continued symbolic violence visited upon disadvantaged communities and their children, as well as for normative understandings of social justice leadership evident in the social justice leadership scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeoliberalism and Education Systems in Conflict
Subtitle of host publicationExploring Challenges Across the Globe
EditorsKhalid Arar, Deniz Örücü, Jane Wilkinson
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780429345135
ISBN (Print)9780367352554, 9780367362935
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Cite this