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"Smart students get perfect scores in tests without studying much": Why is an effortless achiever identity attractive, and for whom is it possible?
Lancaster University/UK.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research. Mälardalen University.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6201-9135
2015 (English)In: Research Papers in Education, ISSN 0267-1522, E-ISSN 1470-1146, Vol. 30, no 4, 393-410 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Discourses about the value of effort and hard work are prevalent and powerful inmany western societies and educational contexts. Yet, paradoxically, in these samecontexts effortless achievement is often lauded, and in certain discourses is heraldedas the pinnacle of success and a sign of genius. In this paper we interrogatediscourses about effort and especially ‘effortlessness’ in Swedish and Englisheducational contexts. Informed, in particular, by interview data generated in uppersecondary schools in Sweden and secondary schools in England, we address thequestions: why is effortless achievement attractive, and for whom is it possible tobe discursively positioned as an effortless achiever? We argue that the subjectposition of ‘effortless achiever’ is not available to all categories of studentsequally, and for some it would be almost impossible to attain; the intersections ofgender, social class, ethnicity and institutional setting are influential. We end byconsidering the problematic implications of effortless achievement discourses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 30, no 4, 393-410 p.
Keyword [en]
effortlessness; effort; intelligence; gender; social class
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education; Sociology of Education; Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-244166DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2014.970226ISI: 000357184700001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-244166DiVA: diva2:787993
Available from: 2015-02-12 Created: 2015-02-12 Last updated: 2016-03-17

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Nyström, Anne-Sofie
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