Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 249-276

First online:

Teacher subcultures of democratic practice amidst the oppression of educational reform

  • Audrey A. FriedmanAffiliated withBoston College, Lynch School of Education Email author 
  • , Hugh T. GalliganAffiliated withBrook Farm Academy, Boston Public Schools
  • , Caitlyn M. AlbanoAffiliated withJackson Mann Elementary School, Boston Public Schools
  • , Kathleen O’ConnorAffiliated withLowell Public Schools

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Teachers’ voices explore and document what is at stake when they are excluded from power-brokering conversations that mandate how teachers practice and model democracy in classrooms. Case study vignettes, interviews, classroom observations, and reflections of teachers in urban and suburban schools reveal four significant teacher subcultures of democratic practice: a subculture of compliance, a subculture of noncompliance, a subculture of subversion, and a subculture of democratic inquiry and practice. Analyses reveal that each subculture poses significant stakes for teachers, preservice teachers, the teaching profession, pupils, and society writ large.


Reform Teacher subculture Democratic practice Educational change Oppression of educational reform Compliance Noncompliance Subversion Democratic inquiry and practice