chapter  4
18 Pages

Using Arendt to think about ELMA: The vita activa

This chapter will confront the policies of successive governments who bought into the TLP and so have framed and promoted ELMA as both organisational (school) and systemic (market) performance leadership. Drawing on Arendt’s (1958) text The Human Condition , the chapter will use data to examine the nature of labour, work and action, and it will consider the rhetorical construction of leadership as action and juxtapose it with the realities of labour and work. In doing so the chapter reconfi rms Arendt’s arguments that action and politics are important, and so I will use this to generate questions about the composition of the school workforce, the nature of professional practice and the interplay between agency and structure in the experience of professional identity construction. In doing so I am well aware that The Human Condition , like other texts, is contentious because it is ‘regarded by some as a work of genius and by others as beneath refutation’ (Canovan 1998: xv). The left are troubled by Arendt’s arguments on the social because they could be interpreted as being anti-social but her analysis of action has given inspiration to civil rights activists (Canovan 1998).