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Complicit institutions: representation, consumption and the production of school violence

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posted on 2022-03-28, 15:29 authored by Sue Saltmarsh
This study integrates sociological theories of social class with poststructuralist theories of subjectivity, representation and consumption, to consider the complex ways in which the representational practices of institutions and individuals are implicated in the production of violence in schools. This work draws particularly on a case study of incidents of sexual violence which occurred at an elite private school in Sydney during 2000, in which four students were charged with a range of offences committed against younger peers over a period of months. The assault incidents received widespread media coverage and sparked intense public debate, in response to which a media strategies consultant was engaged by the school to liaise with members of the press. This study demonstrates the extent to which the interrelationships between systems of signification (in particular, written and visual texts) and other social systems, (for example, families, schools, and political economy) function in the constitution of subjectivities and the production of meaning, and takes as its focus the interrelationship and functioning of texts, discursive practices and social practices which pertain specifically to the assault incidents described above. Data are derived from a range of sources and genres, including promotional materials, personal and general correspondence, media reports, and interviews, necessitating a variety of qualitative analytic methods. Informed by critical post-structuralist theory, in particular the work of Bourdieu, Foucault, and de Certeau, this work considers questions pertaining to the operation of power within social institutions, with particular emphasis on the constitutive function of discourse. The analysis extends current conceptualisations of school violence through a post-structuralist interrogation of, and linking of violence to, educational consumption, which has predominantly been theorised according to sociological or economic models. The argument is made that the market ideologies which pervade contemporary social and educative practice, together with the representational practices and disciplinary regimes of schools, function in the constitution of social subjects who occupy multiple ambiguous subject positions in the patriarchal hierarchies which characterise the power relations and institutions under consideration, thus implicating institutions in the production of violence.


Alternative Title

Representation, consumption and the production of school violence

Table of Contents

Introduction -- School violence: a brief overview -- What's in a name?: constructing an institutional identity in an educational market -- The discipline of gentlemen -- Parent consumers: tactical manoeuvres and institutional strategies -- Making the papers: Trinity in the news -- Games of truth: "everyone has their spin" -- Conclusions.


Bibliography: leaves 310-325

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Division of Society, Culture, Media & Philosophy, Department of Critical and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Dept. of Critical and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Joseph Pugliese


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Sue Saltmarsh 2004. This thesis was digitised for the purposes of Document Delivery. Macquarie University ResearchOnline attempted to locate the author but where this has not been possible; we are making available, open access, selected parts of the thesis which may be used for the purposes of private research and study. If you have any enquiries or issues regarding this work being made available please contact Macquarie University ResearchOnline - If you wish to access the complete thesis, on receipt of a Document Supply Request, placed with Macquarie University Library by another library, we will consider supplying a copy of this thesis. For more information on Document Supply, please contact




New South Wales


vii, 325 leaves

Former Identifiers

mq:6624 1350106