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Experimental authority in the lecture theatre

Brigstocke, Julian 2020. Experimental authority in the lecture theatre. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 44 (3) , pp. 370-386. 10.1080/03098265.2019.1698527

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Authority is one of the most problematic and ambiguous concepts in social and educational theory. Authority is a relation that is based on disparities of knowledge, expertise or experience. Drawing on teaching observations and interviews with undergraduate students and lecturers about their experiences of large-group teaching, I argue that in contrast to lecturers’ focus on professional authority and expertise, many students respond most strongly to experiential forms of authority in lectures. In other words, there is a disparity between students’ and educators’ conceptions of pedagogic authority. Through a discussion of a teaching intervention aiming to playfully experiment with authority relations in the lecture theatre, the paper contributes to a conceptualization of an emancipatory and experimental politics of educational authority, one where students are challenged, not only to think independently, but to see their own existence – the grounds for their actions – as an important intellectual problem to engage with. This requires moving beyond the dominant Weberian ideal types of educational authority (traditional, rational-legal, charismatic, and charismatic-intellectual) towards a fuller understanding of experiential forms of authority.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0309-8265
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 December 2019
Date of Acceptance: 25 November 2019
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2021 11:20

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