Constructing Resilient Education: Social Practices Which Form Community

This is presentation is about constructing resilient education in the fractured environment examining social practices which form community. It was given to the National Education Union conference on Friday, 3rd February 2022 which was staged at The University Centre West Anglia, King’s Lynn.  Participants were invited to reflect on the theme of communities of practice. This is a copy of the presentation along with the written article which has been annotated with multimedia resources and verbatim excerpts from original sources in the grey boxes.


It used to be that people said that the best things in life are free; now those things which were free and parts of our lives are being appropriated by new forms of economies for profit; especially the digital. When I was asked about communities of practice I thought about it and examined the lives of people I have met working in various subsectors of education and came to the conclusion that in our current society in Britain nearly everyone is working in a fractured environment so community and what it means must adapt to the constant disruptions and drains on time, energy and commandeered resources.


Setting the Scene of the Fractured Environment

In this presentation, we will examine some key social practices which have been useful for the embodiment of the Ragged University project reflecting on ideas of Communities of Practice in the light of the social, economic and cultural configuration of present day Britain. In an increasingly corporate and globalized world (Locke & Spender, 2011), where educational practices are often overly affected by financialisation (Shaxson, 2019) there is a need to create systems of education and learning which are ‘resilient’ for the learner rather than the organisation.


Audio Presentation and Slides

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You can download the National Education Union publication of this article here:




“Notice our title deals with managerialism, not management. Management is a big topic that cannot be properly treated here. Our focus is narrower, on managerialism. Although by the middle of the twentieth century the American idea of management had been more or less subsumed by managerialism, management and managerialism are not coextensive. While management can be defined as getting things done in organizations through people, managerialism means that in businesses, managers have come to view themselves as a professional caste.

The distinction between managing and managerialism allows us to criticize managerialism without denigrating the critically important function of management. Managerialism is defined as follows: What occurs when a special group, called management, ensconces itself systemically in an organization and deprives owners and employees of their decision-making power (including the distribution of emoluments) – and justifies that takeover on the grounds of the managing group’s education and exclusive possession of the codified bodies of knowledge and know-how necessary to the efficient running of the organization. (Locke, 2009, 28)

The managerialist caste arose in the mid-twentieth century as the post–World War Two economy boomed. Its public face was the reputation for commercial brilliance the boom implied. Yet the connection is far from obvious; many other causes can be cited. So, far from presuming the changes in management technique and attitude were beneficial, our book examines the damaging impacts this caste and its practices had in other ways, for instance, on people’s ability to make sense of their existence in a globalized society and economy as the twentieth century drew to a close…With the history of managerialism as one theme, our book’s companion topic is business school education.

Managers get their education in a variety of ways today, usually on the job. Increasingly, however, the selection and training of managers has become the focus of business-school-based education. Thus we critique the US elite business schools whose growth in the twentieth century has been associated with the rise of managerialism (Locke 1984, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2009; Spender 2005, 2007, 2008a, 2008b, 2008c).

The elite schools’ influence over the lesser-ranked schools around the world is huge, especially when it comes to the content of their programs and the ethos their programs inculcate. The management education industry is now vast and global, but almost all of it marches to these elite schools’ drummers. ” (page x – xii) 


Locke R. R. & Spender J.-C. (2011). Confronting managerialism : how the business elite and their schools threw our lives out of balance. Zed Books


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“it is necessary to understand financialisation, a phenomenon that first properly emerged in the 1970s and has slowly, silently, crept up on us all. Financialisation has involved a massive growth in the size and power of the financial, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sectors, and it has also seen financial markets, techniques, motives and ways of thinking penetrate ever deeper into our economies, our societies and even our culture.

Trainline’s corporate structure is an example of this second aspect of financialisation, where the bosses of companies that create real wealth in the economy – by making widgets and sprockets, finding cures for malaria, selling toys or package holidays, or creating efficient platforms for selling rail tickets – are increasingly encouraged to turn their attentions away from the hard slog of trying to boost productivity and genuine entrepreneurship, and towards the more profitable sugar rush of financial engineering to tease out more profits for the owners.

Half a century ago it was widely accepted that the purpose of corporations was not just to make profits, but also to serve employees, communities and wider society. In the era of financialisation of the last few decades, our businesses have undergone a massive transformation. The purpose of business has been whittled down to little more than a single-minded focus on maximising the wealth of shareholders, the owners of those companies.”


Shaxson N. (2019). The Finance Curse : How Global Finance Is Making Us All Poorer. Vintage.


This is done specifically in response to the sociological environment having become dominated by centralised, vertically integrated, command and control corporate projects whereby the experience of people is kept in a constantly ‘fractured’ state. I argue that corresponding to the denudation and homogenisation of the natural world (Hayhow et al., 2019), we are experiencing a denudation and homogenisation of the sociological world which significantly includes learning and education.



13% decline in average species’ abundance. Our indicator of average species’ abundanceof696 terrestrial and freshwater species has fallen by 13% since 1970; the rate of decline was steeper in the last 10 years, although not statistically significantly so.

5% decline in average species’ distribution. Our indicator of average species’ distribution, covering 6,654 terrestrial and freshwater species over a broad range of taxonomic groups, has fallen by 5% since 1970, and ts 2% lower than in 2005.

41% have decreased in abundance. More species have shown strong or moderate decreases in abundance (41%) than increases (26%) since 1970, and likewise more species have decreased in distribution (27%) than increased (21%) since 1970.

53% of species show strong changes. Our wildlife is undergoing rapid change; the proportion of species defined as showing strong changes in abundance, either increasing or decreasing, rose from 33% over the long term to 53% over the short term.

15% of species are threatened. Of 8.431 species that have been assessed using regional Red List criteria. 1S% have been classified as threatened with extinction from Great Britain. and 2% are already extinct.”


Hayhow DB, Eaton MA, Stanbury AJ, Burns F, Kirby WB, Bailey N, Beckmann B, Bedford J, Boersch-Supan PH, Coomber F, Dennis EB, Dolman SJ, Dunn E, Hall J, Harrower C, Hatfield JH, Hawley J, Haysom K, Hughes], Johns DG, Mathews F, McQuatters-Gollop A, Noble DG, Outhwaite CL, Pearce-Higgins JW, Pescott OL, Powney GDand Symes N (2019) The State of Nature 2019. The State of Nature partnership. Retrieved from internet 31.1.23:


For many there is not even the time or resources to maintain sufficient nurture of ties with family and friends let alone achieve professional goals. A simple axiom which helps expose the dynamics of this fractured state is ‘if you are not financially poor, you are likely time poor’. I am raising an important cultural question by situating learning within the fractured environment which causes so many valuable educational endeavours to become fragile, altered and/or disappear. Orienting organisational practices to respond to hostile environments is a vital strategy.


This fractured state interferes with the planning of projects outside of corporate structures, and when projects are performed within the corporate structures, they have any non-contiguous values and practice altered to corporate agendas or are obscured. Key examples include the radical narrowing and hollowing out of the subject area of Political Economy; also how ‘critical pedagogies’ can end up in forms which fail to critically challenge any arrangement.


The Corporate Denudation of the Sociological Environment

Corporate education suffers from generations of managerial practices which Prof Joel Bakan summarizes neatly – corporations are ‘externalising machines’ (Bakan, 2012); in that, as structures they externalise what they perceive to be costs and enclose what they perceive to be benefits. As a result, despite many of its practitioners best efforts, education as a sector demonstrates diminished interest in provision of a public good in favour of ‘market values’ – more explicitly, ‘stock market values’.


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“The creation of externalities by corporations relates directly to the legal rule that corporations must always act in ways that serve their own best interests, i.e., that maximize their shareholders’ wealth. As corporate law scholar Janis Sarra stated in an interview: “Corporate law, as it is currently constructed in the Anglo-American paradigm, requires that corporate officers take account of short-term costs and long-term costs to the corporation, but not to anyone else.

Anything that is not considered such a cost is called an externality and includes the costs of corporate harms that are borne by workers, small creditors, consumers, or community members. If a corporation makes a decision that will harm the land or have some sort of long-term effect on fishing waters of First Nations people or results in environmental contamination of communities, those kinds of costs are external to the corporation and do not need to be accounted for in the corporation’s decision. These externalities also do not need to be costed on the corporate balance sheet because only the profit is recorded, but not the costs to others. That is how corporate law is currently constructed.”


Beginning of Chapter 3: The Externalizing Machine, Bakan J. (2012). The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit Of Profit And Power (Revised and expanded). Constable.


The corporate management of the world of music production and football offer strong analogies to what is manifest in the education (and other) sectors. The idea that the current configuration of the music industry (Knox, 2021) or FIFA (Jennings, 2011; Jennings 2015) support the diversification rather than the standardisation and commodification of music and sport is specious to the point of fallacy. The corporate environment must be understood as hostile to diversification, innovation and invention. In response to this, for those situated outside of the corporate it is imperative to adopt tactics which build capabilities to ‘adapt, improvise and overcome’ (Barclay, 2011) expecting disruptive and dislocating cultural forces.


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“The evidence I gave the FBI in August 2011 revealed that Chuck Blazer, an American member of FIFA’s leadership cabal living in fabulous opulence in Trump Tower, was stealing millions of dollars every year from FIFA and regional football. He had ‘disappeared’ himself offshore to avoid paying tax. I discovered he hid his wealth in Caribbean tax havens. The FBI shared my confidential documents with the American tax authorities and, soon afterwards, the grotesquely obese Blazer was arrested in Manhattan riding his mobility scooter.

Days later, Blazer, facing the rest of his life in jail, capitulated and turned state witness, implicating dozens of other FIFA crooks also involved in soliciting bribes to grant marketing and TV rights for their football tournaments.

Blazer was shipped to the London Olympics where he secretly recorded selected FIFA officials and associated lowlifes. One plea-bargained and repaid a staggering $151 million he had siphoned off in kickbacks and skimming contracts. He agreed to wear a wire and entrapped several more prominent FIFA officials, some later arrested in Zurich.”


Jennings A. (2015). The Dirty Game: Uncovering the Scandal of FIFA. Century.


My interest in particular focuses on social practices which can serve individuals and populations who are disenfranchised by the financialised and social status laden, credentialised landscape to generate educational trajectories in their lives; our lives. This draws heavily on critical lessons surfaced in the field of International Development (Groves & Hinton, 2013) which I suggest are becoming vitally important for surviving in post industrial societies such as Britain as much as economically sacked nations which are labelled as ‘developing’ (Stiglitz, 2002).


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“In my judgment, the level of pain in developing countries created in the process of globalization and development as it has been guided by the IMF and the international economic organizations has been far greater than necessary. The backlash against globalization draws its force not only from the perceived damage done to developing countries by policies driven by ideology but also from the inequities in the global trading system. Today, few—apart from those with vested interests who benefit from keeping out the goods produced by the poor countries— defend the hypocrisy of pretending to help developing countries by forcing them to open up their markets to the goods of the advanced industrial countries while keeping their own markets protected, policies that make the rich richer and the poor more impoverished—and increasingly angry.”


Page xiv, Stiglitz, J. (2002) Globalization and its Discontents. New York: WW Norton & Company,


Basing organisational practices on elements autonomous of dominating corporate structures means that whatever community looks like, it is less likely to take on the corrosive behaviours and practices propagated by corporate shaping forces. Increasingly academics must develop work in their ‘own unpaid time’ should they want to diverge from curricular mandates, develop research perspectives or critically enrich student experience. In a related way, for many learner-thinkers they must develop their own education which pertains to human development independently from support of centralised resourced structures, in their own terrain, via what means they have available to them.


Moving from Corporate Structures into Social Practices

Learning from experience, the Ragged University website serves as a social document of adaptive efforts to run a project of education since before 2010. A key moment of learning came at the point when Ragged University eventually became a registered charity before the immediate move to close it as this legal entity (Dunedin, 2019b). This counter-intuitive direction was taken after reflecting on the nature of how the third sector and the public sector are now formulated as extensions of the financial sector reinforcing complex structural problems.


This decision was made partly through recognising that formalised organisational structures commonly get colonized by the administrations of chasing resources and gatekeeping ingroups (Elias & Scotson, 2008). Alongside these issues are problems with infrahumanization psychology (Haslam, & Loughnan, 2014). The choice was made to close the project as a charity to focus on the development of understandings which constitute a practical philosophy (Dunedin, 2021) which could protect the ideas of education and learning as something that any individual can embody in their own context free of chains of dependency. This strategy aimed to open up spaces structured around fluid collegiality rather than the damaging corporate practices that pit colleague against colleague for resources that are made artificially scarce.


“A ‘new look’ at dehumanization-related processes was initiated by psychologists in Belgium. Starting with the anthropological insight that ethnic groups often reserve the “human essence” for themselves, Leyens and colleagues (2001) theorized that this form of ethnocentrism may be a general phenomenon. They proposed that people tend to perceive out-group members as less human than in-group members even in the absence of significant intergroup antagonism. Most importantly, Leyens and colleagues argued that this process may be subtle, in contrast to the blatant denials of humanness described by early dehumanization theorists. To emphasize this distinction they coined the term “infrahumanization” to refer to the subtler form.”


Haslam, N., & Loughnan, S. (2014). Dehumanization and infrahumanization. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 399–423.


“Already at that time the ‘villagers’ evidently formed a relatively close group in a much greater degree.  They had developed traditions and standards of their own.  Those who did not comply with their norms were excluded as people of an inferior sort. Hence they withdrew from the pub which the immigrants had chosen as their meeting place.  And they took up the struggle against the intruders by using all the characteristic weapons available to a well established and fairly closely-knit community in its relations with groups of newcomers who, for one reason or another, did not adapt themselves to their tradition and their norms and who therefore threatened, as they must have felt it, their communal status and identity: They closed their ranks against the newcomers. They cold-shouldered them.

They excluded them from all posts of social power whether in local politics, in voluntary associations or in any other local associations or in any other local organisation where their own influence dominated. Above all, they developed as weapons an ‘ideology’, a system of attitudes and beliefs which stressed and justified their own superiority and which stamped the people on the Estate as people of an inferior kind.  Built around certain stereotyped themes their status ideology was spread and maintained by a constant stream of gossip which fastened on any event in the ‘village’ that could help to enhance the ‘village’ community and on any event among the Estate people that could reinforce the negative picture of the Estate. It also helped to block perception of any event which might conceivably contradict it. That does not mean there was a concerted plan among the ‘villagers’ to act in that way.” (page 18)

“Even in the ‘village’ opportunities for a reasonably satisfactory mode of spending one’s leisure time were by no means the same for all inhabitants; and for people who lived on the Estate the chance to participate was minute.  Because the diversions of the ‘village’ were largely communal, they were closely linked to its social order. Like the gossip channels, neighbourhood activities, and particularly the activities of the leading local associations, were dominated by people who belonged to the old families’ network including those who lived in Zone 1.

Others who were willing to fit in were tolerated even if they came from Zone 3.  But they were rarely in the centre of things; they remained even in associations centred on places of worship more or less outsiders.  And the feeling that one belonged was obviously an essential ingredient of the enjoyment provided by communal leisure time activities whether they had an informal character such as the meetings of neighbours on a shopping round and in a pub, or a more highly organised character such as meetings of local associations. “ (page 52)


Elias N. & Scotson J. L. (2008). The established and the outsiders (Rev.). University College Dublin Press.


Culturally this ‘X-Factor’-like pattern of competition has been promoted to the exclusion of other dynamics as a mode of governance which rules through division holding within it the anthropological legacy of colonial Britain. Britain was arguably the first place to be colonised in these respects. We must recognise and scrutinise deeply how corporate administrative systems have emerged from the East India Company as their historical progenitor (Robins, 2017). The creation of Britain as a society of extreme inequality (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009; Alston, 2018; Alston, 2020; Marmot, 2022) has brought with it crystallising caste systems (McCrone, 2022) codified with ‘hierarchies of legitimacy’ (Elias, Martins & Whitley, 1982) that penultimately are used to demarcate social and intellectual distinction (Bourdieu, Nice & Bennett, 2010) and ultimately access to opportunity.


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“The year 2000 was the 400th anniversary of the founding of the English East India Company. It was also the year that I came to work in the City of London, where the Company had been headquartered throughout its 275-year existence. Then and now, the City forms one of the major hubs of international finance…

One day, I walked further east, heading along Leadenhall Street, aiming to visit the site of the East India Company’s headquarters and then head back to work. I was in for a surprise. When I reached the corner of Leadenhall and Lime Street, where East India House had stood for over two hundred years, there was nothing – no sign, no plaque, nothing to mark the fact that this was the location where the world’s most powerful corporation had once been based.

In a country that is drenched in the culture of heritage, this absence puzzled me: why had this historic Company been so completely erased from the face of London? This book is an attempt to answer this question and, more importantly, to re-examine the meaning of the Company’s legacy for the global economy of the twenty-first century. As I delved deeper into this corporation from the Age of Enlightenment, it became clear that this was not just a thing of the past, but an institution whose practices were strikingly familiar.

The Company had pioneered the shareholder model of corporate ownership and built the foundations for modern business administration. With a single-minded pursuit of personal and corporate gain, the Company and its executives eventually achieved market dominance in Asia, ruling over large swathes of India for a profit. But the Company also shocked its age with the scale of its executive malpractice, stock market excess and human oppression.

For me, the parallels with today’s corporate leviathans soon became overpowering, with the Company outstripping WalMart in terms of market power, Enron for corruption and Union Carbide for human devastation. There are countless histories of the East India Company, yet none address its social record as a corporation. This is a gap that this book seeks to fill, recovering a sense of the ferocious struggles over corporate accountability that the Company generated in the eighteenth century.”

Page x, Robins, N., (2017). The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational. Pluto Press

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“Take health inequalities, for example. For ten years Britain has had a government committed to narrowing the health gap between rich and poor. In an independent review of policy in different countries, a Dutch expert said Britain was ahead of other countries in implementing policies to reduce health inequalities.361 However, health inequalities in Britain have shown little or no tendency to decline. It is as if advisers and researchers of all kinds knew, almost unconsciously, that realistic solutions cannot be given serious consideration.

Rather than reducing inequality itself, the initiatives aimed at tackling health or social problems are nearly always attempts to break the links between socio-economic disadvantage and the problems it produces. The unstated hope is that people – particularly the poor – can carry on in the same circumstances, but will somehow no longer succumb to mental illness, teenage pregnancy, educational failure, obesity or drugs. Every problem is seen as needing its own solution – unrelated to others.

People are encouraged to take exercise, not to have unprotected sex, to say no to drugs, to try to relax, to sort out their work-life balance, and to give their children ‘quality’ time. The only thing that many of these policies do have in common is that they often seem to be based on the belief that the poor need to be taught to be more sensible. The glaringly obvious fact that these problems have common roots in inequality and relative deprivation disappears from view.

TRENDS IN INEQUALITY Inequality has risen in many, but not all, developed countries over the last few decades. Figures 16.1 and 16.2 show the widening gap between the incomes of rich and poor in Britain and the United States over a thirty-year period. The figures show the widening gap between the top and bottom 10 per cent in each country. Both countries experienced very dramatic rises in inequality which peaked in the early 1990s and have changed rather little since then. In both countries inequality remains at levels almost unprecedented since records began – certainly higher than it has been for several generations. ” (Page 233)


Wilkinson R. G. & Pickett K. (2009). The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. Allen Lane.


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“And so the actual choice of countries, in some ways I was lucky because obviously China, the United States, United Kingdom, well the US and the UK came from my belief that we should not only do what Nikki Haley would like us to do which is to go to the poorest countries in the poorest continents and hammer away at them but to emphasize the theme that I’ve always pushed which is that poverty is a political choice.

Poverty could be eliminated in virtually every country if the political elite actually wanted to do that, but they don’t, they consciously don’t. They want the money for themselves. And so looking at the US and the UK where you’ve got very wealthy economies, they had lots of choices but they still opt to have 15% or whatever of their population living in poverty so I thought it was very important to convey that message and document the linkage.”  (Quote from Philip Alston 23 min 28 seconds into the video by Prof Philip Alston UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty; the most cited human rights scholar)


Alston, P., (2020) ‘Do Human Rights Investigations Matter? The Case of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty’, Retrieved from internet 31.1.23:

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“What I’ve tried to do in my report is to ask why what’s the motivation for the main policies that seem to be problematic in the benefits area and the answer that most people come up with is austerity. In other words the implication is that there was no choice. There was a financial crisis, there was a need to make immense budget savings and benefits was one of the key areas where that could be done. The truth is that first of all there haven’t been a great many savings from what I can see. A lot of it has involved the transfer over from one set of items to another; a lot of it has been pushed off to the community, to families, to emergency rooms, and to even governmental emergency services, rather than in the benefit system itself.

I don’t see that the motivation has been to create a more compassionate a more caring benefit system and one that actually produces better life outcomes for people instead the motivation is very clearly – I believe an ideological one.  I don’t say that in a necessarily critical way because governments have different ideologies. Governments think of social welfare in different ways and this government and its predecessor have both been remarkably successful in bringing about a revolution in British welfare policy. They have transformed the nature of the system and particularly the underpinnings of it.

The problem that I see is not in terms of the worthy objectives; it is true that employment is a key to getting people out of poverty; it is true that the previous system was confused and confusing. It’s true that there are efficiencies that have been found but what’s also happened is that the system epitomized by Universal Credit – about which I’ll talk more in a moment, but not at all limited to that – is in fact driven by the desire to get across a simple set of messages ‘the state does not have your back any longer, you are on your own’.

Margaret Thatcher famously said ‘there’s no such thing as society’; the government’s place is not to be assisting people who think they can’t make it on their own. The government’s place is an absolute last emergency order and so what goes along with that is a sense that we should make the system as unwelcoming as possible that people who need benefits should be reminded constantly that they are lucky to get anything that nothing will be made easy and linked to that is what I would think of as a ‘sergeant-major’ mentality.

As one MP put it to me, the command and control approach reflected in Universal Credit – that sanctions should be harsh, should be immediate, should be painful, and yet all of the evidence that I’ve seen, notwithstanding various assertions made by DWP indicate that sanctions are usually counterproductive…

…that they create fear and loathing among claimants, that they impose immense hardships on people who might have been five minutes late for an appointment, might have screwed up in some other way; but instead of trying to work through with people who are already under immense stress there is this sudden ton of bricks approach, and the ton of bricks goes from three months to six months and can go into the years. And I think that sort of punitive approach to benefits is utterly inconsistent with the essential underpinnings, not just of what I would see as Human Rights, but of the whole British sense of community and the values of justice and fairness.” (Quote from 4 minutes 41 seconds to 9 minutes 15 seconds)


Alston, P., (2018), ‘Report on the United Kingdom by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty’, United Nations Press conference, London, Retrieved from internet 31.1.23:

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“I think the analysis that I tried to capture in ‘The Health Gap’ still stands. The opening line of the book was ‘why treat people and send them back to the conditions that made them sick ?’; particularly at the time of a pandemic we think a great deal about the healthcare system. We hear daily about the NHS overstretched, over capacity, and it’s absolutely vital that we have a proper functioning healthcare system but inequalities in health are not due by and large to lack of access to quality health care but to the social determinants of health, the conditions in society that make people sick in the first place…

…and what I do in The Health Gap is bring two types of inequalities together; those within countries and those between countries. Within countries dealing particularly with socio-economic differences there is a social gradient. You’ve heard a great deal about. The magnitude of it I don’t deal with it in The Health Gap in this example, but Grenfell Tower, in the area around Grenfell compared with the richest part of the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea, there’s a 16 year gap in male life expectancy within that borough.

So huge inequalities within countries, and within local areas within countries; and huge inequalities between countries…and I go through the explanations for that. We define social determinants of health as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and inequities in power, money and resources that give rise to those conditions of daily life…

…and we need to function at both levels, looking at inequities in the conditions of daily life and in power, money, and resources. One particular issue, and Will [Will Snell, Chief Executive of the Fairness Foundation] mentioned it in the discussion, that I deal with at some length in The Health Gap is the question of absolute inequality, or relative inequality.

In our most recent report ‘Built Back Fairer in the Eastern Mediterranean Region of the WHO’, which we published in 2021, and a few couple of years before that, our the commission which I led on equity and health inequalities in the Americas for the Pan-American Health Organization; we adopted the phrase that we used in Europe – do something, do more, do better.

For people in absolute poverty – do something – absolute poverty really matters if you haven’t got enough to eat, if you can’t heat your dwelling, in a rich country like Britain that absolute deprivation will damage your health; there’s nothing relative about that – it’s absolute.” (Quote from 4 minutes 55 seconds to 8 minutes 37 seconds)


Marmot, M., (2022), Prof Sir Michael Marmot on The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World, The Policy Institute at King’s College London, Retrieved from internet 31.1.23:


“Legitimacy. While legitimacy may well be considered a ‘resource’ in the broad sense of that word, it is especially vital for commitment to a research trail. As has been noted for ‘orthodox’ as well as ‘deviant’ sciences, gaining approval for a given line of inquiry is likely to be problematic for any novel research effort (31). ‘Paradigms’ and ‘research traditions’ (32) circumscribe definitions of acceptable novelty rather narrowly. These definitions become institutionalized so as to encompass established trails.

Not only are papers published, but thematic journals may exist. Nor only are research proposals funded, but funding programs may be created within a federal agency expressly for the purpose. Specialized training programs are likewise founded at local sites to produce ‘specialists’ (see below). Thus, both the individual researcher and those powerful gatekeepers of the relevant hierarchies who control funding, publication, and acclaim acquire a reputational interest in the continuance of the trail.

Indeed, an accumulation of such interests lends legitimacy to the trail and advantages to prominent researchers within it (33). While some compound this reputational capital in a trail or related set, and simultaneously enhance the identification of the local site with it, others try to expand their sphere of influence by transferring their considerable reputational capital to a new problem, thereby imputing legitimacy to it (34). Of course, even an eminent scientist incurs the risk of transfer, failure, and loss of legitimacy, if claim to novelty falls beyond acceptable bounds

(li) Funding. Intimately associated with the legitimacy of a trail is its funding. Without funding, novel research cannot be exploited; indeed it may become (un)known as a stillborn idea (37).” (Page 301)


Daryl E. Chubin And Terence Connolly, Research Trails And Science Policies: Local And Extra-Local Negotiation Of Scientific Work, (1982), in Norbert Elias, Herminio Martins and Richard Whitley (ed.),Scientific Establishments and Hierarchies. Sociology of the Sciences, Volume VI, 1982. 293-311. Copyright © 1982 by D. Reidel Publishing Company.


“Indeed, it presents no paradox to suggest that the chief victims of the devaluing of academic qualifications are those who enter the labour market without such qualifications. The devaluation of diplomas is accompanied by the gradual extension of the monopoly held by academic qualification-holders over positions previously open to the academically unqualified, which has the effect of limiting the devaluation of qualifications by limiting the competition, but only at the cost of restricting the career openings available to the unqualified and of reinforcing the academic predetermination of occupational opportunity.

In certain areas, particularly the civil service, this leads to a decline both in the dispersal of the holders of the same qualifications among different jobs and in the dispersal of the qualifications of holders of equivalent jobs, or, in other words, a reinforced correlation between academic qualification and job occupied. The market in jobs open to formally qualified candidates has grown constantly, inevitably at the expense of the formally unqualified. Universal recognition of academic qualifications no doubt has the effect of unifying the official set of qualifications for social positions and of eliminating local anomalies due to the existence of social spaces with their own rank-ordering principles.” (Page 134)


Bourdieu P. Nice R. & Bennett T. (2010). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Routledge.


Conceptualising the Organiser as Reader

If you conceptualise the coordinator of the events as the reader in a subject, this elementary practice provides opportunity to build off the back of learning experiences and shared activities. In this framing, understanding the educational affordances of interpersonal interaction (Dunedin, 2022) has taken centre stage providing considerable sociological substrate [likened to a ‘mycelium’] sufficient to manifest valuable social relations [‘invisible colleges’ (Dunedin, 2015)] for activities commonly associated with higher education.


By the individual organising their self-directed educational strategy in ways designed for coalescence as well as pragmatic independence of activity, planning can manifest within and around the chronically changing shape of circumstance. The Ragged University project has learned much from how musicians and artists organise in the hostile over-financialised landscape of Britain.


David Hughes, Carrie Westwater and David Newman of the Theatre Found troop in Glasgow – who used public spaces to deliver theatre played a significant role in evolving Ragged University strategies for using available space. Musicians in Manchester developed important project strategies for working as an individual when other artists were not available whilst planning coordinated events as opportunity allows. As well as this, Daniel Zambas and Gary Boast, two skilled musicians, demonstrated with acumen how to coordinate and deliver 72 events over a month in the 2011 Edinburgh Festival through using organisational tools, basic communications and remote support.


These individuals demonstrated the kind of sovereign creative thinking which enabled the delivery of public education events without money and stand as exemplars of how to operate dynamically in the hostile and fractured environment. The educational practice of Ragged university has benefited from lessons learned from artists who continue their work in the face of problematic circumstances; they also helped dis-engorge the project of education from managerial practices which this author attempted to introduce after being inducted into the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.


Their influence through illustration of more effective, less distorting ways of working has been so profound that it has fed into theorizing ‘knowledge as an art object’ (Dunedin, 2019a). This idea expresses how creating artefacts of learning embodies the values, exercises and skills associated with developing art works. If you take the artist as the primary attainer of insight in the process of creating a work of art, in a correlated way we may view the coordinator of educational activities as sovereign of their efforts and inspirited with the activity they perform.


Use Available Infrastructure and Common Technology

Inspiration has been drawn from Rabindranath Tagore who expressed how all he needed to make his school is the shade of a tree to sit in (Dunedin, 2012). This means in practice using public spaces like pubs, cafes, libraries, parks and other spaces which are free to use and that allow individuals to negotiate and re-negotiate (Brown, 2015) how they interact in those spaces. Specifically, these are spaces where knowledge and practices which have been enveloped by institutions and professions are re-appropriated and re-organised as part of an open shared commons. Examples are ownership of speciated language, written works, referencing information sources, and seeking the review of peers – all of which have become commonly associated as belonging to, and within, the academy; however all originate from inside the interpersonal spaces in the lives of individuals.


For those whose interests sit outside of the financialized and power laden enclosure of corporately organised education, the capacity to adapt to, and use, available infrastructure as a substrate of learning activities is a key axiom. In Ragged University this has been conceptualised as a part of the ‘living curriculum’ which draws on the world around in order to generate higher educational outcomes (Dunedin, 2022).


Using common technology rather than cutting edge technology is an important part of the core formulation. The hopes and dreams of the digital represent the source of many of the problems we are facing today (Eubanks, 2019; O’Neil, 2016). Stepping back from the corporate shaping of the means of production means being able to not use stockmarket driven products and services such as those offered by Microsoft, Apple, Google and other monopolistic behemoths (Salinger, 2013) in favour of technologies which are capable of functioning independently of paywalls and the dependency capitalism they engineer. Good examples of such pedagogical technologies include dialogue, paper and ink, and open source silicon technologies like Linux.


“Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health, and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Forty years ago, nearly all of the major decisions that shape our lives—whether or not we are offered employment, a mortgage, insurance, credit, or a government service —were made by human beings. They often used actuarial processes that made them think more like computers than people, but human discretion still ruled the day.

Today, we have ceded much of that decision-making power to sophisticated machines. Automated eligibility systems, ranking algorithms, and predictive risk models control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, who is short-listed for employment, and who is investigated for fraud…

Digital security guards collect information about us, make inferences about our behavior, and control access to resources. Some are obvious and visible: closed-circuit cameras bristle on our street corners, our cell phones’ global positioning devices record our movements, police drones fly over political protests. But many of the devices that collect our information and monitor our actions are inscrutable, invisible pieces of code.

They are embedded in social media interactions, flow through applications for government services, envelop every product we try or buy. They are so deeply woven into the fabric of social life that, most of the time, we don’t even notice we are being watched and analyzed.” (page 11)


Eubanks V. (2019). Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile Police And Punish The Poor (First Picador edition. Paperback). Picador St. Martin’s Press.


“The housing crisis, the collapse of major financial institutions, the rise of unemployment—all had been aided and abetted by mathematicians wielding magic formulas. What’s more, thanks to the extraordinary powers that I loved so much, math was able to combine with technology to multiply the chaos and misfortune, adding efficiency and scale to systems that I now recognized as flawed. If we had been clear-headed, we all would have taken a step back at this point to figure out how math had been misused and how we could prevent a similar catastrophe in the future. But instead, in the wake of the crisis, new mathematical techniques were hotter than ever, and expanding into still more domains.

They churned 24/7 through petabytes of information, much of it scraped from social media or ecommerce websites. And increasingly they focused not on the movements of global financial markets but on human beings, on us. Mathematicians and statisticians were studying our desires, movements, and spending power. They were predicting our trustworthiness and calculating our potential as students, workers, lovers, criminals.

This was the Big Data economy, and it promised spectacular gains. A computer program could speed through thousands of résumés or loan applications in a second or two and sort them into neat lists, with the most promising candidates on top. This not only saved time but also was marketed as fair and objective. After all, it didn’t involve prejudiced humans digging through reams of paper, just machines processing cold numbers. By 2010 or so, mathematics was asserting itself as never before in human affairs, and the public largely welcomed it. Yet I saw trouble.

The math-powered applications powering the data economy were based on choices made by fallible human beings. Some of these choices were no doubt made with the best intentions. Nevertheless, many of these models encoded human prejudice, misunderstanding, and bias into the software systems that increasingly managed our lives. Like gods, these mathematical models were opaque, their workings invisible to all but the highest priests in their domain: mathematicians and computer scientists. Their verdicts, even when wrong or harmful, were beyond dispute or appeal. And they tended to punish the poor and the oppressed in our society, while making the rich richer.” (page 10)


O’Neil C. (2016). Weapons Of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality And Threatens Democracy. Crown


“White-collar crime has become a generic term used to describe crimes that are financially motivated and typically nonviolent, in reference to commercial fraud, insider trading, embezzlement, and, as in the Microsoft case, monopolistic practices that would tend to dampen or eliminate equitable competition in the wider marketplace. Corporate crime is often slippery, particularly when the perpetrator is a large incorporated business— this is not a “person,” like Bernie Madoff, who can be arrested, jailed, questioned, and brought to the justice in the traditional way. Companies are “persons” only in the legal sense (“fictitious persons,” as it were) and digging through the layers of responsibility may present particularly difficult challenges for law enforcement. (Page 601)

Furthermore, new technologies have given rise to new forms of national and international pricefixing conspiracies and new challenges to enforcement agencies. In April 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice brought a civil antitrust action against Apple and five major e-book publishers for allegedly fixing the price of e-books, which are read by millions of consumers on their iPads and other devices. In May 2012, the U.S. District Court in New York allowed a class-action case to proceed against Apple and its partner publishing houses, citing ample indications of a price-fixing conspiracy. In the meantime, Apple and its publishing partners are also subject to multiple Canadian class-action suits filed recently in courts in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. (Page 749)

In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) imposed a $22.5 million fine on Google for using tracking cookies on consumers’ Web browsers to collect data on their Internet use. This represented an infringement on consumers’ privacy rights by the Web company, a charge that has been leveled at them before. However, it is doubtful that the FTC will succeed in doing much economic damage to the Web powerhouse. The tiny fine is less than what Google earns in a few hours.” (Page 217)


Salinger L. M. (2013). Encyclopedia of white-collar and corporate crime (Second). Sage Reference.


Learning in the Wild

Learning ‘in the wild’ therefore reconfigures such elements as activities and goods no longer officiated by financialised hierarchies but instead as intrinsically owned activities which embody value and function in the lives of practitioners.


The modern experience of living lives in the interstices of what has been commanded by the mechanical structures of society must be acknowledged and drawn upon to search for educational means that do not just re-create the landscape we already exist under/in. Envisioning coordinating organisational practices so that they may function when faced with the fracturing of finance and/or having time as a capacity, is a critical evolution for medium and longer term community.


To find communities which can practice individuals must reformulate efforts for the hostile environment of this mismanaged country and sector (Sweeney, Despota, & Lindner, 2013) in order to protect ‘education as human development’ (Dunedin, 2019c).


YouTube player


“One of the attractions of being in London is the network of lawyers, accountants, oligarchs, kleptocrats, do deals. English law provides a stamp of legitimacy. We’ve identified 81 law firms, 86 UK banks, and surprisingly 177 UK education institutions that have accepted or moved dirty money from around the world.” (Quote 11 minutes 16 seconds to 11 minutes 41 seconds)


“Box 3.6 In focus – Corruption, money laundering and fee-paying education in the United Kingdom

Transparency International UK In many countries the interface between education and corruption may centre on the lack of access to education because of corruption, but in the United Kingdom, and other markets with a private education sector, it can take a different form. Two areas in which it is allegedly prevalent are the following.

Money laundering: This takes the form of an individual using corruptly obtained funds to pay the fees of family members at private schools or universities in the United Kingdom. The vulnerability of the country to this form of money laundering has recently been acknowledged by the UK government.5 The well-known case of Nigerian citizen James Ibori, who received a 13-year jail sentence after admitting fraud, revealed that, in addition to buying properties and luxury cars, he had also paid for private school fees in the United Kingdom. Although no provable link was established in the Ibori case between the proceeds of crime and the payment of school fees, the case illustrates how corruptly obtained funds could be used for such purposes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that educational establishments have in place weak money-laundering controls despite the significant increase in overseas students at UK schools and universities, and this is an area that would benefit from further research.

Educational fees as a bribe: This takes the form of a third party (e.g. a company or an intermediary on behalf of a company) paying for school or university fees as part of inducements for obtaining contracts from the ministers or public officials concerned. This was allegedly the case when Securency funded the fees of a Vietnamese official’s son at Durham University – a case still under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.6 A variant is that a minister or public official will specifically seek a cash bribe to pay for school or university fees in the United Kingdom, as was reportedly attempted in the case of Gu Kailai in China.7”


Sweeney, G., Despota, K., Lindner, S., (2013), Global Corruption Report: Education, Transparency International, Routledge, Retrieved from internet 31.1.23:



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