Reframing Educational Policy And Practice In Vulnerable Communities: Re-Viewing Struggle Street

Year: 2015

Author: Gannon, Susanne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This coauthored paper is both a critique of postcode poverty as a new voyeuristic television genre and of the particular representation of poverty in Struggle Street (SBS, 2015) and a policy and practice conversation with researchers who have worked in the Mt Druitt area, and in parallel communities of persistent poverty in other large Australian cities. While recognising that Struggle Street is a highly mediated and contested representation of moments in the lives of particular people, we take up three particular scenes where the series touches on educational matters as provocations for thinking beyond the stereotypes and habitual explanations that are perpetuated through the footage, editing and narration. We interrogate the assumptions of neoliberal subjects of choice that position the disadvantaged as the inept and unlucky agents of their own misfortune. Through the televisual lens we begin to explore public policy responses, their limitations and potentials for responding to the complex problems that are depicted. We also consider the role of policy beyond the domain of education in producing and exacerbating disadvantage. We draw on research and experience to prise open and complicate the version of lives on Struggle Street that we have ben presented with. The paper introduces and frames the theme of this symposium, which emerges from a collaborative network of educational researchers in schools and educational sites serving disadvantaged suburban communities.