Panel E.09 — Working at school. Career pathways, professional deontology, professional relationships and identities in the face of social justice

Convenors Gabriele Pinna (Università di Cagliari, Italy); Antonietta De Feo (Università Roma 3, Italy)

Keywords Teachers; work; school; professional ethos; neo-liberal educational reforms.


The issue of social justice in education directly challenges the professional deontology of school actors. In particular, the ethical dimension of teaching gives broader and higher goals to professional competences and practices, encouraging the pursuit of values – such as social justice, equity and social inclusion – in an independent spirit (Freidson, 2001). In recent decades, there has been an assault on the ‘credibility’ of schools and, especially, of teachers as a professional group, due to pressures that have undermined the democratic role of educational institutions in society. Neo-liberal educational reforms, in particular, have had a significant impact not only on the working conditions of teachers (as well as other school professionals) and their recruitment and career paths, but also on the purpose of educational action as a public good. School actors are increasingly “mobilised” within political agendas that value education in relation to the labour market or as an investment to cash in on resources useful for individual success (Biesta, 2017).

Traditionally, research on school work has focused on the profession of teachers, their professional identities, recruitment and career paths (Nortie, 1975), on their responsibilities and tasks (Argentin, 2018; Barrère, 2003; Carter, Stevenson, 2012; Colombo, 2017; Durler, Losego, 2019), on their socio-economic position and social origins (Abbiati, 2014; Cavalli, Argentin, 2010). Recently, scholars have concentrated on the prestige and malaise of teachers as a professional group (Barrère, 2017), due to the aforementioned neoliberal reforms that have had a significant impact on the school field. This panel invites scholars to present theoretical and/or empirical research contributions on the principles of vision that guide educational practices in schools and define the professional identity of teachers and of other school actors (Bois, Jacquot, 2022). The panel aims to stimulate a dialogue between the sociology of work, the sociology of the professions (Abbott, 1988; Champy, 2012; Chapoulie, 1973; Evetts, 2011), the sociology of education and the field of policy studies. The purpose is to open a space for discussion on how the dominant frames regarding education influence the school field and its actors with particular reference to the following thematic areas:

  • Recruitment and job insecurity of school professionals
  • Professional training
  • Professional identities, values and ethics
  • The pedagogical relationship as a worker – “client” relationship
  • The characteristics of the work of teachers, managers, psycho-pedagogical trainers in the different levels (primary, lower and upper secondary schools) and educational areas (i.e. general vs vocational education) of the school
  • The new models of school management
  • The school as a professional system (relations between teachers and other professionals in the school field)
  • The transformations of work and professional ethos brought about by the neo-liberal reforms of the school field


Guidelines and abstracts submission