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Undesirable affects: towards a materialist sociology of school violence

In Australia, almost all young people are required to attend school. It is widely accepted that education is fundamental to improving people’s lives, and society, so much so it is recognised as a universal human right. Yet school is not the same for everyone. As a former teacher, I am interested in better understanding how schools can be constraining in ways we don’t always realise, to help make them more enabling for all. My research is a close examination of the everyday operation of violence in two Victorian schools. Microviolence is understood here as subtle everyday practices which limit possibilities. I focus on how microviolence materialises, and its relationships with broader social patterns and cultural norms in constituting and maintaining other forms of violence in schools, such as structural, symbolic and epistemic. I investigate how people feel in different spaces around their schools, what is happening in those spaces, and how those spaces are experienced. In this way I aim to contribute to existing research in the sociology of education and the emerging sociology of violence, through providing empirical evidence and materialist analysis of microviolence in schools. Through understanding its operation in schools, we can work towards reducing it.

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A Generation Apart: Young people, trade unionism and the everyday struggles of work

Since the end of the 1970s, trade unionism amongst young people in Australia has experienced a period of sustained and severe decline. Recently, this decline has occurred concurrently with rapid changes to the labour market, employment relations and the broader industrial landscape of the post-crisis political economy, which has left many young people locked into insecure working arrangements for much longer periods than previous generations. Despite this, there is a dearth of research on young people and trade unionism. This thesis explores the decline in unionism amongst young people, within a political economy of work that is increasingly precarious and individualised. In order to explore these complex, intertwined issues, I will employ a mixed methods approach that utilises both qualitative and quantitative data drawn from a longitudinal study. By employing this mixed-methods approach, this research aims to contribute to existing scholarship on the political economy of youth, the sociology of youth and young adulthood, trade unionism, generation, social change and the sociology of work. It aims to provide insight into the experience of work as reported by young people and to explore the strategies available to young people as they encounter challenges within a post-crisis political economy, including trade unionism.

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