Student voice as a contested practice: power and participation in two student voice projects

Carol Robinson, Carol Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article applies theoretical understandings of power relations within student voice work to two empiricalexamples of school-based student voice projects. The article builds on and refines theoretical understandingsof power and participation developed in previous articles written by the authors. The first article arguedthat at the heart of student voice work are four core values: communication as dialogue; participation anddemocratic inclusivity; the recognition that power relations are unequal and problematic; and the possibilityfor change and transformation (Robinson & Taylor, 2007); the second article focused on a theorization ofpower and participation within student voice work (Taylor & Robinson, 2009). This article explores how power and participation manifest themselves within the operation of student voice projects and considersthe micro-processes at play when implementing student voice work within schools. The article concludesby questioning whether student voice work provides a genuine means through which change in schools isinitiated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-46
Number of pages15
JournalImproving Schools
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


  • democratic schooling
  • power
  • pupil voice
  • students as researchers
  • student voice


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