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All middle class now? : Evolving representations of the working class in the neoliberal era: the case of ELT textbooks

Gray, John and Block, David (2014) All middle class now? : Evolving representations of the working class in the neoliberal era: the case of ELT textbooks. In: English Language Teaching Textbooks. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 45-71.

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The global explosion of commercial English language teaching (ELT) is largely coterminous with the birth of the neoliberal era dating more or less from the late 1970s. It is a period which has been characterised not only by the deregulation of financial markets, the abolition of trade barriers, and the imposition of structural readjustment programmes on developing world countries, but also by an ideology that promotes and celebrates individualism over class-based and other collective identity inscriptions. Central to the exponential rise in commercial ELT is the development of a sizeable and financially lucrative publishing industry in which textbooks aimed at the global market are core products. This chapter takes the view that such materials can be seen not only as mediating tools of subject knowledge, but also as organs for the ideological reproduction and legitimation of a worldview which is largely neoliberal in orientation. The chapter begins with a short discussion of class and argues the case for its relevance in discussions about second language learning. It then explores the marginalisation of class in ELT materials (in the sense of the assumption of middle class identity only), alongside the concomitant move towards much greater gender and race inclusivity. Drawing on a data base of UK-produced ELT textbooks dating from the 1970s to the present, the chapter traces the evolving representations of class, while at the same time punctuating the discussion with extracts from materials produced in earlier decades when class differences were more explicitly addressed. The analysis shows a progressive move towards a focus on spectacular personal and professional success in which aspiration is firmly focused on the individual with scant regard for ideas of the collective – a view the chapter suggests is deeply problematic.

Item Type: Book Section
Controlled Keywords: Social class, politics of representation, interdisciplinary approaches to textbook analysis
Divisions: IOE Departments > Departments > Culture, Communication and Media
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2013 03:27
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 09:50
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