Publication Date



Purpose: “Leadership” is arguably the central concept of interest in contemporary scholarship on educational administration. Within this scholarly discourse, there is an explicit assumption that leadership is a “real” phenomenon that is not only important, but also necessary for educational institutions. However, few scholars engage with issues surrounding the confusion of a socially constructed label with an assumed empirical reality. The aim of this paper is to mobilise critical social theory and to discuss the concept of leadership in educational administration.

Design/methodology/approach: To engage with this matter, the author mobilises critical social theory, specifically that of Pierre Bourdieu, to discuss the concept of leadership in educational administration.

Findings: In doing so, the author argues that: “leadership” is a label taken from common language into scholarly discourse for the purpose of solving a perceived problem in the empirical world, and that this is made possible through a particular constitution of the social space.

Research limitations/implications: The central argument of this paper challenges the hegemonic position of educational leadership scholarship, particularly its mobilisation of context, both time and space.

Originality/value: Unlike scholarship focused on developing an explanation of what constitutes leadership, this paper engages with the abstraction of “leadership” as an educational administration concept.


School of Education

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.