Refraction as a tool for understanding action and educational orthodoxy and transgression

Timothy Rudd, Ivor Goodson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we attempt to further develop the concept of ‘refraction’ (Goodson & Rudd, 2012; Rudd & Goodson, 2014). Refraction is a conceptual tool intended to support complex and rich methodological and theoretical explorations of educational discourse, systems, policies and practice. It emphasises empirical investigation at the supra, macro, meso and micro levels, providing simultaneous analysis of both structure and agency. From our perspective, refraction is an attempt to provide a more holistic analysis that considers the interconnectedness between structure, agency, ideology and histories and beliefs. We attempt to highlight the ‘axes of refraction’ in relation to UK waves of reform, in order to illustrate the various foci for analysis and spaces and historical moments of refraction. Key-words: structure and agency.Educational theory, historical periodisation, refraction,
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalRevista Tempos e Espacos em Educacao
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2016


  • Educational theory
  • historical periodisation
  • refraction
  • structure and agency


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