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Despite the ‘practice’ turn in the broader management literature, very little work in educational administration has engaged in a theoretical discussion about what constitutes leadership practice. Theoretically informed by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, this paper contributes to the long-established critical tradition in the educational administration literature, to argue that: (i) ‘leadership’ is a label of the managerialist project of the state; (ii) leadership should be thought of as a disruptive practice; and (iii) Bourdieusian theory can enable this thinking, but not as it is frequently mobilised in the educational administration literature. The alternative put forth in this paper is not merely replacing one external narrative (managerialism) with another (Bourdieusian), but rather advancing a theoretical position on what is leadership that paves a way forward for a research programme.


School of Education

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Journal Article

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