The ‘contradictory space’ of the entrepreneurial academy
Critical ethnography, entrepreneurship education and inequalities
in Inside the English education lab
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This chapter draws on research in Milltown Community Academy, a Northern secondary school that houses an ‘entrepreneurship specialism’. Overall, the chapter makes two contributions; firstly, it presents data that evidences retrenched inequality at Milltown Academy, and secondly it makes a methodological case for critical ethnography. Empirically, the chapter examines Milltown Academy’s entrepreneurial agenda in practice. In the academy ‘entrepreneurship education’ is formally embedded in the school’s ethos and curriculum. It is also realised through a ‘real-world’ initiative that allows local and student start-up businesses to operate from within the school building. Throughout, the chapter highlights processes by which ‘race’ and class inequalities are (re)produced in and through these entrepreneurship education practices. Methodologically, data in the chapter are drawn from critical ethnographic research collected at the institution over a year-long period. Bringing together methods and theory, the chapter draws on critical traditions in theories of sociology and education that centre inequality and ‘contradiction’. Specifically, the chapter devises and operationalises a series of ‘contradictions’ it names as ‘keyoxymorons’ to think, research and write through complex, and simultaneous struggles with inequality in the academy school and beyond. For example, the keyoxymoron ‘successful-failure’ is deployed to explore and unpack socio-historic discourses of ‘success’ attached to the academy, while simultaneously illustrating how some of these narratives of ‘success’ work to encompass, distort and ignore ‘failure’.

Inside the English education lab

critical qualitative and ethnographic perspectives on the academies experiment

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