“We’re in compliance”: Reconciling teachers’ work as resistance to neoliberal policies





critical policy analysis, critical ethnography, de Certeau, compliance, resistance


Neoliberal polices such as standardized testing, teacher evaluation, and student performance accountability serve as market pressures that dictate teachers’ work. In this paper, we employ critical policy analysis (CPA) and critical ethnography in order to bridge theory and method. Specifically, we apply de Certeau’s (1984) theory of consumption to examine the clandestine ways that teachers creatively resist the policies that constrain them. Our findings, which are presented in three vignettes, demonstrate the ways in which teachers tactically read policy and engage in passive compliance. We conclude by discussing how the qualities of our participants’ subtle acts of resistance blur the line between compliance and resistance, which has implications for the study of resistance to neoliberal policies.


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Author Biographies

Bryan J. Duarte, Miami University

Bryan J. Duarte is an assistant professor of educational leadership at Miami University. Their research interests take a critical (and queer) policy analytical approach to examining the relationships between principals and teachers in historically underserved schools amid neoliberal school reform. Bryan is a former eighth- and ninth-grade history and English teacher of five years.

Curtis A. Brewer, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Curtis A. Brewer is an associate professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He studies the principal’s role in leading change, the politics of educational inequality and critical policy analysis. Curtis is a former middle school history teacher.




How to Cite

Duarte, B. J., & Brewer, C. A. (2022). “We’re in compliance”: Reconciling teachers’ work as resistance to neoliberal policies. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (105). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.6173



Teachers and Educational Policy: Markets, Populism, and Im/Possibilities for Resistance