Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Powerlessness in professional and parent partnerships

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Liz ToddORCiD, Steven Higgins



Power is both implicit and explicit in relationships between parents and professional educators, even in situations where both parties have a common goal in supporting the education of a child or children. We feel that in much previous work the notion of power has either been absent or undertheorised. In this paper, we discuss some of the ways in which the structuring of home-school relations around power leads to particular difficulties and complexities. Further, we suggest some implications (and limitations) for the notion of partnership itself. We look at the notion of powerlessness as a way of understanding much of what happens between school and parents. In particular, we challenge the easy dichotomy of parents as powerless and professionals as powerful. We suggest that understanding both the prominence of the dichotomy and the effects on home-school relations can help to explain the failure of many attempts to improve parental involvement in schools. Influence of other hierarchies, such as LEAs and governmental reforms of education, has had implications for the power and powerlessness of both parents and teachers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Todd ES, Higgins SE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Sociology of Education

Year: 1998

Volume: 19

Issue: 2

Pages: 227-236

Print publication date: 01/06/1998

Date deposited: 30/10/2008

ISSN (print): 0142-5692

ISSN (electronic): 1465-3346

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/0142569980190205


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric