Social justice dispositions informing teachers’ pedagogy in advantaged and disadvantaged secondary schools

This project studied the different perspectives that teachers have towards social justice and how these differently influence their teaching in advantaged and disadvantaged secondary schools. It produced new concepts and methods for researching educational inequalities and to better enable teachers to act in more socially just ways.

PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators

Professor Trevor Gale – University of Glasgow, School of Education

Associate Professor Russell Cross – University of Melbourne, Australia

Associate Professor Carmen Mills – University of Queensland, Australia

The project team also included:

Dr Stephen Parker (Research Fellow) – University of Glasgow, School of Education

Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen (Research Fellow) – Deakin University, Australia


Start and End Date

1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015


Funder and Funding Amount

Australian Research Council, $AU452,501


Related Publications

Articles and chapters

Gale, T., Cross, R. and Mills, C. (2020) Researching teacher practice: social justice dispositions revealed in activity. In: Lynch, J., Rowlands, J., Gale, T. and Parker, S. (eds.) Practice Methodologies in Education Research. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY, pp. 48-62. ISBN 9780367193829 (doi:10.4324/9780429202063-3)

Cross, R., Mills, C. and Gale, T. (2019) Thinking with Bourdieu about teachers’ pedagogies and their dispositions for social justice: unthinkingness in aspiration formation. In: Stahl, G., Wallace, D., Burke, C. and Threadgold, S. (eds.) International Perspectives on Theorizing Aspirations: Applying Bourdieu’s Tools. Bloomsbury, pp. 130-144. ISBN 9781350040335

Mills, C., Gale, T., Parker, S., Smith, C. and Cross, R. (2019) Activist dispositions for social justice in advantaged and disadvantaged contexts of schooling. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 40(5), pp. 614-630. (doi: 10.1080/01425692.2019.1582322)

Molla, T. and Gale, T. (2019) Positional matters: school leaders engaging with national equity agendas. Journal of Education Policy, 34(6), pp. 858-876. (doi: 10.1080/02680939.2018.1556811)

Gale, T., Mills, C. and Cross, R. (2017) Socially inclusive teaching: belief, design, action as pedagogic work. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(3), pp. 345-356. (doi: 10.1177/0022487116685754)

Mills, C., Molla, T., Gale, T., Cross, R., Parker, S. and Smith, C. (2017) Metaphor as a methodological tool: identifying teachers’ social justice dispositions across diverse secondary school settings. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 38(6), pp. 856-871. (doi: 10.1080/01425692.2016.1182009)

Gale, T. and Molla, T. (2015) Social justice intents in policy: an analysis of capability for and through education. Journal of Education Policy, 30(6), pp. 810-830. (doi: 10.1080/02680939.2014.987828)

Conference papers:

Gale, T., Cross, R. & Mills, C. (2016) Researching Teachers’ Social Justice Dispositions Through Pedagogic Activity. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Conference, Washington DC, USA, 8-12 April 2016.

Mills, C., Cross, R. & Gale, T. (2018) Pedagogic activity: Situating teachers’ social justice dispositions in context. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference, Sydney, 2-6 December.

Cross, R., Mills, C. & Gale, T. (2017) Unthinking-ness, pedagogy, and aspiration formation: Bourdieu’s tool-kit for researching teachers’ pedagogies and the dispositions that guide socially just practice. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference, Canberra, 26-30 November.

Mills, C., Smith, C., Gale, T., & Cross, R. (2016) Activist dispositions towards social justice in advantaged and disadvantaged contexts of schooling. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference, Melbourne, 27 November – 1 December.

Cross, R., Mills, C., Gale, T., & Smith, C. (2016) An activity theoretical analysis of how socially just pedagogic work is authorized in advantaged and disadvantaged schools. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference, Melbourne, 27 November - 1 December.

Gale, T., Cross, R., & Mills, C. (2016) A methodological technique for exploring unspoken dispositions that guide teacher action. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference, Melbourne, 27 November - 1 December.

Molla, T., Gale, T., Mills, C., Cross, R., Parker, S. & Smith, C. (2016) Doing social justice in schools: moments of policy compliance, adjustment and contestation. Paper presented at the Annual International Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE), Melbourne, Australia, 27 November – 1 December.

Mills, C., Molla, T., Gale, T., Cross, R., Parker, P., & Smith, C. (2015) Metaphors for social justice: Conceptualisations of teachers located at the extremes of education advantage and disadvantage. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) annual international conference, Fremantle, Australia, 29 November – 3 December.

Cross, R., Mills, C., Gale, T., Smith, C., Parker, S., & Molla, T. (2015) Pedagogic authority, action, and power: The distribution of labour in the activity of pedagogic work. Paper presented at the Annual International Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE), Fremantle, Australia, 29 November – 3 December.

Cross, R., Gale, T., & Mills, C. (2015) From pedagogic action to pedagogic activity: Reading social justice dispositions from the practice of teachers’ work. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference, Queen’s University Belfast, UK, 15-17 September.

Gale, T., Mills, C., Molla, T., Cross, R., Parker, S., & Smith, S. (2015) Metaphors as framing devices for social justice work in schools. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference, Queen’s University Belfast, UK, 15-17 September.

Gale, T., Mills, C., Molla, T., Cross, R., Parker, S., & Smith, C. (2015) Teachers’ metaphors of social justice: A Bourdieuian investigation of the logics of practice informing social justice work in secondary schools. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Conference of the European Educational Research Association (EERA), Budapest, Hungary, 8-11 September.

Cross, R., Gale, T., & Mills, C. (2015) From pedagogic action to pedagogic activity: Reading social justice dispositions from the practice of teachers’ work. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Conference of the European Educational Research Association (EERA), Budapest, Hungary, 8-11 September.

Gale, T. & Molla, T. (2014) Leading social justice in schools: Prescriptive and descriptive principal dispositions. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) annual international conference, Brisbane, Australia, 30 November - 4 December 2014.

Parker, S., Gale, T. and Molla, T. (2014) Leading Social Justice in Education: Emerging Issues from Australian Schools. British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference, London, UK, 23-25 Sep 2014.

Parker, S., Gale, T. , Mills, C. and Cross, R. (2014) Teachers’ Social Justice Dispositions, Pedagogic Authority and Classroom Practice in Advantaged and Disadvantaged Contexts. Inaugural Conference of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute: Imagining Social Equity, Melbourne, Australia, 28 Feb - 01 Mar 2014.


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