Exploring enduring employment discrimination in favour of British and American teachers in ‘Traditional International Schools’

Cherry Atkinson, Tristan Bunnell

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Abstract

Volume 2 of Journal of Research in International Education included an article (Canterford, 2003) which discussed ‘segmented labour markets’ in ‘International Schools’. That paper investigated the predominance of British and American educators, using an economics lens, concluding that a form of discrimination existed which was driven by demand-side factors. In particular, Canterford (2003) identified a labour-market dominated by British and American actors, asserting that ‘requirements discriminate very effectively against teachers from certain areas of the world.’ Our paper re-visits and advances Canterford’s discussion and argues that not only does there still seem to be a reliance on native English-speaking Anglo-American actors in what might be described as ‘Traditional International Schools’, but there is a further need to move beyond economic theory towards the application of a sociological one. By applying Pierre Bourdieu’s Social Field Theory we show how positive discrimination in favour of native English-speakers from certain Western/Global North nations can occur within a discrete level of activity, creating a condition that is evident yet most often misrecognised. A complex set of doxa endures within the arena, beginning at recruitment level and continuing within curriculum-delivery and teacher-retainment levels. We show how the field in general possesses a normative belief-system that promotes division within the labour-market, yet at the same time makes it seem natural, legitimate, and ‘legal’. This situation, the nomos, is a powerful, structural condition that helps make positive discrimination in favour of British and American actors seem so fundamentally normal as to remain, for the most part, unremarked. The topic still requires substantially more investigation and validation. However, by theorising it, and thus better confronting it, we can arguably begin to deal with it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research in International Education
Publication statusAcceptance date - 23 Nov 2020

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