Launch of our 1st issue

This was an exciting week for IPED – as we were able to launch our first issue. The idea for the journal came from some unhelpful experiences with the peer review process (some of which were featured on Buzzfeed). We first began discussing the journal in 2011, gradually building an editorial board, a web presence and now publishing our first issue. The team wanted to set up a journal where all content is free to access, there are no charges for submission or publishing. Research should not be held behind paywalls, and open access offers a chance for anyone to submit and access research.

Our first issue can be found here and features research exploring Asperger Syndrome (full paper) in the workplace, apprenticeships (student essay), the experiences of international PhD students (full paper) and equality and diversity managers in higher education (research note). We are also fortunate to include a book review and a commentary from Professor Jo Brewis.

Bringing this 1st issue together has been hard work, but rewarding. We hope IPED will provide a forum for publishing innovative research which challenges the status quo. If you have any ideas for unusual research approaches, teaching ideas or other material you think would be of interest please drop us an email (

I would like to thank Heriot Watt University for supporting the journal, all the authors, editorial board and reviewers for their hard work. I have been delighted by the amount of support the journal has received from scholars across the career stages. We hope you enjoy this first issue and will share it with your networks and join us in making a small (but important) contribution to a shift in academic publishing.


(Real) Cowboy Up!

By Dr. Rebecca Finkel, Senior Lecturer at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Along with issues of gender identity, I’m also interested in ethnicity and rodeo, especially given America’s somewhat complicated relationship with multiculturalism and so-called race relations. Preliminary secondary research is showing that there is a lot of segregation in rodeo events and performances. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as events reflect broader societal norms for the most part, but I guess it’s disappointing to see such segregation in this day and age. There’s professional rodeo, which appears to be mainly white men; gay rodeo; women’s rodeo; Native American/Indian rodeo; African-American rodeo; Black rodeo; ‘Cowboys of Color‘; Charreada/Mexican rodeo; Disabled rodeo. It’s almost tribal. Historically, the ‘Wild West’ was a lot more diverse and integrated than rodeo presents it.

I spoke to two friends living in the American West, and they did not seem surprised at all by the multitude of factions in rodeo. It seems to be par for the course. Basically, from my understanding of the situation, the ethnically-focused groups were established as a reaction to the dominance of the white heterosexual male being presented as the ‘real’ cowboys. Interviews with African-American cowboy and rodeo associations bring up the ‘forgotten history’ and ‘lost heritage’ of Black cowboys, who were vital in settling the West.

The myth of the cowboy is very much linked to the rise of segregation and anti-immigration sentiment, which diminished the role of the non-white male in ‘building’ America. The invented tradition of the West has social, political, and moral significance, which has been reinforced by contemporary popular culture and media. Think of a cowboy. Silent, alone on his horse, independent, free to roam. Who comes to mind? John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper, Jack Palance, Alan Ladd (Shane), Clayton Moore (Lone Ranger), Robert Redford, Sam Elliott, the Marlboro Man. Spaghetti Westerns have a lot to account for in constructing the concept of ‘cowboy’ in the popular imagination, it seems. Only in the past decades have marginalised groups started to assert their place and status in the ‘Wild West’ narrative.

A friend in Denver and I were discussing the idea of ‘legitimacy’ and ‘authenticity’ with regard to cowboy culture, which then manifests itself in public performances at rodeos. Authenticity is a complex term, imbued with meaning from those who construct it, given to multiple interpretations and narratives. It appears that authenticity in this case is established by constructing an identity based on ‘othering’ to legitimise yourself.

There appears to be an insecurity among cowboys about ‘infiltration’ from non-real cowboys. This has been exacerbated by a proliferation of rich retirees buying ranches, which has brought skepticism particularly to California cowboys. Has the desire to protect cowboying from fake cowboys translated into racism and homophobia?

Legitimacy of cowboys seems to be defined by beef and bourbon (gout?) and a particular construction of what is and is not ‘real’. It’s not about material culture necessarily – wearing a hat, boots, and gun doesn’t make you a cowboy. Any ‘imposter’ can buy their way into looking like a cowboy.

You have to be tough to take part in some rodeo sports. But how can ‘tough’ be defined by gender, sexuality, ethnicity? Isn’t the act of participating legitimacy enough?

Who is the real cowboy? Is it even a ‘boy’? Why does it matter?

This article previously appeared here.

Rebecca’s blog on rodeo masculinities can be accessed here.

CfP Critical interpretations of the representation and re(production) of organisational life in popular culture: international perspectives.

Special issue CfP (deadline 31st August 2016)

Critical interpretations of the representation and re(production) of organisational life in popular culture: international perspectives.

Guest editors:

Dr Rebecca Finkel, Senior Lecturer, Queen Margaret University,

Dr Kate Sang, Associate Professor, Heriot-Watt University,

Steven Glasgow, PhD student, Heriot Watt University,

This special issue examines the interface between popular culture and organisational life, and how popular culture represents, constructs, and negotiates issues relating to masculinities and femininities. A range of scholars from different disciplines are analysing popular culture to understand the complexities of work under neoliberal capitalism and the personal, professional, and subjective vagaries of organisational life. Recent examples include analyses of series such as Mad Men (see special issue of Cultural Studies Review), Star Trek Voyager (Bowring, 2004), The Bill (a British police procedural drama) (Sullivan and Sheridan, 2005), The Apprentice (Windle, 2010), and Futurama (Pullen and Rhodes, 2012). Analysing popular culture and its representations of working life is useful for media and cultural studies on a number of counts: first, it brings concepts and theories from a wide range of disciplines such as sociology, film studies, communication studies, literary theory, management, and psychoanalysis, bringing new theories and concepts to enrich our analyses of gender and race in organisations. Secondly, as Emma Bell (2008) argues, TV and film allows for an exploration of the emotional and personal aspects of management and organisations, providing resources through which individuals can critically reflect on their work experiences. Thus, film and television can be viewed as part of that social construction of management and organisational life (Bell, 2008). Indeed, popular culture is often critical of working life and large corporations (Hassard and Halliday, 2008). Thirdly, popular culture offers ideals and exemplars of what is imagined to be the ‘good life’ achievable through work.

In spite of the upsurge of interest in popular culture in organisational theory, relatively little of this literature provides us with a sustained feminist or critical race analysis of organisations or management. In particular, little is said about and how films and television may influence managerial and organisational masculinities and femininities and their classing and racialisation. In this special issue, we welcome contributions which explore popular representations of management and managers, especially those which use feminist and critical race theory to critique how managerial masculinities and femininities are (re)produced. We particularly welcome papers which look at the representation of women of colour and from those examining sources of media in languages other than English. Submissions may address (but are not limited to) the following questions:

  • How can feminist analyses of representations of management deepen our understanding of how gender, class and race are (re)produced in contemporary workplaces?
  • How can academic disciplines such as film and television studies or literary theory inform studies of management and its practice?
  • How do cultural representations of organisational life inform, influence or reflect working life?
  • How is gender in the workplace represented in a range of popular culture forms, for example, soap operas, graphic novels, films and fiction. We particularly welcome analyses of popular culture in non English speaking countries.
  • What resources does popular culture offer us for critiquing gendering and racialization in organisations?
  • How can representations of gender at work be used to support teaching?

Submissions can be in English, German, Greek, Thai. For other languages please contact the editorial team as we may be able to accommodate this, for example, French, Spanish or Portugese. To discuss ideas for a paper please contact the editorial team.

Manuscripts should be no more than 8,000 words, including notes and references, and be in conformity with IPED style guidelines. If you have an idea for a shorter piece e.g. a research note please contact the editorial team. We welcome innovative pieces so please do get in touch if you have something you’d like to discuss.

Papers should be submitted online via

Closing date for submissions 31st August, 2016

Student essays

As part of a new initiative, IPED will be accepting student (UG and PGT) essays for consideration in the journal. Essays will be peer reviewed, although reviewers will be asked to provide a commentary on the essay – it’s strengths and where it can be developed. Essays can be on any area of equality and diversity, and be written in English, Greek, German, Thai and French. If you wish to have an essay in another language considered, please send an email to the editor (Kate Sang as we may be able to accommodate this. We ask that essays have an abstract in English (if the submission is not in English) to facilitate peer review.

Essays should be submitted via the online system, with a covering letter which clearly explains that this is a student essay

Viewpoint – Internationalisation of Medical Education: Hierarchies, Inequalities and Future Directions

Dr Maria Tsouroufli, PhD, Senior Research Fellow in Education, Institute of Policy Studies in Education, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University, London, UK. Email. Tel: 00442071332158.

In this post I unravel some of the risks embedded in the trade of internationalisation, including unproblematic notions of universalism and disembodiment of medical education and the implications for student access, participation and outcomes. I draw attention to the learning and professional capacities that international medical education favours within a competitive higher education market, dominated by western medical pedagogies, but marketed as valuing diversity and difference.

I propose an emancipatory framework of international medical education which can open up possibilities for equity and social justice in medical education and medicine.

‘Internationalisation of Medical Education: Hierarchies, Inequalities and Future Directions’

Within the wider higher education literature there is a diversity of perspectives on internationalisation. Some scholars have expressed concerns about the reduction of the concept and its policy implications to mobility issues and international student numbers (1, 2).  Internationalisation has been defined by OECD (3) as the integration of an international/intercultural dimension into all of the activities of a University, including the teaching, research and service functions.  Recently there has been a turn to ‘internationalisation at home’ in an attempt to enhance knowledge about intercultural communication and inform the development of pedagogic and management strategies that will promote inclusive learning and teaching within internationalised Universities (1).  Within the literature of ‘internationalisation at home’ the majority of research tends to compare the experiences of University students from one culture with those of another or to evaluate internationalisation strategies developed by institutions.

Internationalisation has become the latest imperative for medical education.  Global economic and social changes have increased the mobility of medical professionals and students and have opened up possibilities for international research and teaching collaborations in medical education. Along with opportunities have come concerns and an increasing interest in defining international standards of medical education that will facilitate the transportability of qualifications and the migration of the international medical workforce (4).

Concerns have also been expressed about the quality of the learning experience in international internships (5,6) and the challenges and coping strategies of international medical students (7).  However, these voices seem marginal within a context of glorification of internationalisation of medical education.  I do not adverse some of the benefits of internationalisation, including the advancement and communication of information and the potential improvement of patient health in digital knowledge economies.  Instead I propose we approach internationalisation with criticality in an attempt to unfold the hidden assumptions upon which the internationalisation imperative is predicated and sustained.

To my knowledge, there has been no systematic attempt to develop a coherent definition of internationalisation or international medical education and its fundamental tenets. For the purposes of this blog I discuss international medical education that encompasses the provision of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education beyond national borders (exporting higher education) and provision of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education for foreign students within the provider country (importing). In what follows I will focus on the hierarchies and inequalities that dominant discourses of internationalisation/international medical education simultaneously reproduce and are shaped by. The discussion is focused on three fundamental questions:

  • Whose knowledge and whose culture translates into symbolic capital (resources and prestige) in international medical education?
  • What capacities for learning and professional practice are privileged in international medical education?
  • What directions do we need to consider in the development of an emancipatory framework of international medical education?

First, we need to consider the global shifts in higher education in terms of philosophy of governance, management and knowledge production.  Shifts from the welfare state to competitive state have resulted in reduced funding for higher education and the corporitization of Universities in many capitalist societies, including the UK.  Higher education is now governed by enterpreneurial ideologies and a culture of ‘corporate managerialism’ (9) with emphasis on accountability, productivity and marketable consumer satisfaction. Universities are caught up in the production of income, graduates and ‘knowledge workers’ (10).  They operate within a context of increased competition and knowledge capitalism which legitimises hunting of new markets and a new form of colonization.  Innovative forms of medical educational provision including cross-national medical schools and e-learning postgraduate medical education courses have grown as economic imperatives in the UK in an attempt to respond to wider political programmes that place higher education at the centre of their capitalist agenda and allegedly the national wealth generation.

Embedded within a global neo-liberalism environment, international medical education programmes are designed to attract and achieve maximum economic and educational capital. Giroux (11) argues that the corrosive corporate culture of Universities ignores privileges and hierarchies, and impacts on our understanding of higher education.

Face-to-face international undergraduate medical education programmes in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and online international postgraduate medical education programmes are American or British initiatives that serve a predominantly non-white and non-Anglosaxonic student population. Medical education in English in these regions and bilingual (English and Chinese) medical education in another big market, China, are very popular (12).  The marketed value of such courses is scripted in two contradictory premises; the assumed neutrality and universality of medical knowledge and professional practice, and the realisation of educational and cultural capital that will enhance graduates’ employability within the international market.

Within the social sciences there is a long tradition of problematization of knowledge production and generalizability. The political power, control and injustices intertwined with knowledge claims (e.g. Western theories used to support the assumed inferiority of certain races or medical science used to construct the ‘hysterical’ female body); the partiality of all knowledge, including the uncertainty of medical evidence (13) and the authentication of knowledge claims by powerful actors within academia (14, 15) are some examples of influential work on knowledge production and legitimization. However, such claims might seem an anathema to medical science and indeed all ‘hard’ sciences, allegedly indifferent to geography, nationality and politics.

My intention here is not to contest the validity of certain medical claims but rather to draw attention to the complex practices and processes that construct hierarchies of knowledge, credentials and professional practice and perpetuate inequalities within the international education market.

The control of medical education markets by predominantly American, British and Australian higher education is legitimised through global representations endorsing the superiority of one medical education curriculum over another (‘non-Western’).  The long history of colonialism provided the context for constructing ‘Western’ driven, but universally applied systems of knowledge and education. Neo-liberal domination on the other hand has led to redundancy of pedagogies of social justice, and a pre-occupation with educational and economic outcomes of higher education curricula.

The ascendancy of neoliberal ideology in higher education shifts attention from higher education as a public good to individual good as a civic responsibility. Under neo-liberalism, learners are faced with endless possibilities and free choices in knowledge economy. They are expected to be entrepreneurial, competitive and pre-occupied with success (16, 17).  The silencing of the pedagogical and ethical challenges posed by international medical education is legitimised within a context of learning reduced largely to economic motive (18) and individual, cognitive-technical practice.

 ‘The way that knowledge is organised both physically and epistemologically within most mainstream higher education context demands the erasure of the body’ (19).  The body is discussed here as both a physical as well as social-cultural site for reifying, re-making or resisting learning and professional meanings and practices (20). It has feelings, morals, and dilemmas lived within communities of practice (21) and shaped by personal as well as collective predispositions influenced by social constructs of gender, class, culture and ethnicity (22). The body does emotional labour, and perpetuates ideologies within a web of professional and power relations in a hospital, general practice or community setting. For example a female orthopaedic surgical trainee might manage her body (e.g. appearance, emotions, ‘technical’ skills and even reproductive choices) in ways that are acceptable within the gendered hidden curriculum of surgery. All these embodied acts are fundamental in the learning experiences of medical students/trainees and their professional identification process (23).

Western medical training has claimed to intentionally aspire to produce ‘rational’, disembodied doctors, homogenised and neutralised in terms of social difference and diversity (24).  Despite increasing interest on socio-cultural theories of learning in medical education research and teaching, the body is paradoxically obsolete, discredited and always present in medical training and work.  Embodied experiences such as power, control and assimilation, have received attention in undergraduate medical education research on gender, medical student identity (25, 26, 27, 28) and medical enculturation in postgraduate medical training and practice (29).

However, even in this pioneer medical educational literature the body remains conceptually and analytically implicit, rather than a fundamental instrument in constituting scholarly and professional habitus (30);  a set of dispositions to learning and professional practice that generate identities and shape successful participation in medicine and medical education.

Successful performance of favoured embodied acts allows medical students to fit into social relationships and knowledge paradigms in international medical education and develop educational capital. Embodied and gendered dispositions such as doing independent learning (15), not asking for help, controlling emotions and working ‘all hours’ have been viewed as positive and subtly reinforced in UK medical education.  Demonstration of these ‘qualities’ has been associated with capacity for educational achievement and professional competence (31).

Unfortunately medical education research has not so far explored the contradictions or oppositions between the learning dispositions and capacities of medical students/trainees and the formal and informal international medical curricula. What capacities are required for access and successful participation in international medical education? What sorts of habitus and capital facilitate access to international medical education?  If competence in the English language is one of the selection criteria we need to think what educational and economic capital would successful international applicants need to have, and what educational and social inequalities might be reproduced or increased within the context of international medical education.

How might local understandings of learning and doctoring influenced by the lived experiences of culture, religion and the gender order contradict valued and favoured embodied capacities in international medical schools? For example, if ‘selling’ the self in an admissions interview in a cross-national medical school is valued and assessed positively, what strategies of self-regulation might some non-Western female students have to employ in an attempt to participate and fit in international medical education?

Currently, student-centred methods originating in Western culture seem to represent an ‘international’ standard (32). For example, the application of problem-based learning in non-Western contexts raises a lot of questions about the implications for these methods for student participation and achievement in international medical education. What feelings, dilemmas and difficulties might international students have to manage to align their learning dispositions and identities with the normative expectations of international medical schools?

Medical education research is replete with examples of inequalities in educational achievement among different ethnic groups (33, 34). Recently considerable attention has been given to biographical and bio-psychosocial risk factors among underperforming factors in the UK, including cultural differences and country of qualification (35, 36).

Although this research is valuable in raising awareness about inequalities in medical education and medicine, it does not tell us much about the embodied learning and professional practices in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education that shape and are shaped by students’ different forms of capital (cultural, economic and social), nor does it throw any light on the learners’ relationships with the field (e.g. a hospital or a specific medical school); ‘a network of objective relations between positions’ (37)  functioning as an arena ‘of production, circulation and appropriation of goods, services, knowledge or status which participants struggle for power and capital’ (38).

Empirical research in international medical education needs to examine the different forms of capital that medical students bring and the implications for learning; the embodied medical habitus valued and reproduced in international medical education; as well as the costs of international students performances of fitting in (39, 40). I propose an emancipatory framework of international medical education which can open up possibilities for equity by focusing on the following future priorities:

  • Embracing medical student diversity and difference (cultural, religious, ethnic etc.) as a resource for developing inclusive medical curricula for all learners and cosmopolitan identities
  • Shifting attention from diversity in admissions to challenging marginalisation and racism, and the effects of racism on retention and success in international medical education.
  • Conducting medical education research on belonging and inclusion of ‘international’ medical students and the personal and professional costs of embodied performances of fitting in.


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