Conceptualizing teacher professional identity in neoliberal times: Resistance, compliance and reform


  • David Hall University of Manchester
  • Ruth McGinity University of Manchester



new public management, neoliberalism, teacher professionalism, resistance, educational policy


This article examines the dramatic implications of the turn towards neo-liberal education policies for teachers’ professional identities. It begins with an analysis of some of the key features of this policy shift including marketization, metricization and managerialism and the accompanying elevation of performativity. This is followed by a discussion of the implications of this turn for teachers in which a new professionalism of increasing regulation and restrictions upon practice in a policy environment dominated by neo-liberalism act to restrict and confine professional identity formation and development. Drawing upon data collected within English schools the article explores how teachers have responded to this new policy environment in ways that are sensitive to how neo-liberal policy has been re-contextualized and re-translated in different educational settings. This reveals both the power of this New Right inspired permanent revolution of educational change in English schools and the complexities of how it has been variously embraced, accommodated and resisted by teachers. The article concludes with a discussion that explores the meaning of resistance in the context of what are identified as restricted teacher professional identities where affordances for professional practices lying outside of neo-liberal subjectivities have been dramatically reduced. 


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Author Biographies

David Hall, University of Manchester

David Hall is Professor of Education Policy at the University of Manchester. His research has focused upon the contemporary working lives of education professionals with a particular interest in the development of professional identities during periods of rapid reform. His research has been funded by organizations including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Economic Social Research Council and has been published in a range of international journals and books. David is the Founding Head of the Manchester Institute of Education.

Ruth McGinity, University of Manchester

Ruth McGinity is a lecturer in in educational leadership and policy at the Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester, UK. Her research interests focus on critical educational policy studies and she uses socially critical theories in order to illuminate power relations and the associated inequities that emerge as a result of neo-conservative and neoliberal social and educational policy agendas.




How to Cite

Hall, D., & McGinity, R. (2015). Conceptualizing teacher professional identity in neoliberal times: Resistance, compliance and reform. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 88.



New Public Management and the New Professional