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Constructions of mathematicians in popular culture and learners' narratives: a study of mathematical and non-mathematical subjectivities

Moreau, Marie-Pierre, Mendick, Heather and Epstein, Debbie 2010. Constructions of mathematicians in popular culture and learners' narratives: a study of mathematical and non-mathematical subjectivities. Cambridge Journal of Education 40 (1) , pp. 25-38. 10.1080/03057640903567013

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Abstract

In this paper, based on a project funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council considering how people position themselves in relation to popular representations of mathematics and mathematicians, we explore constructions of mathematicians in popular culture and the ways learners make meanings from these. Drawing on an analysis of popular cultural texts, we argue that popular discourses overwhelmingly construct mathematicians as white, heterosexual, middle‐class men, yet also construct them as ‘other’ through systems of binary oppositions between those doing and those not doing mathematics. Turning to the analysis of a corpus of 27 focus groups with school and university students in England and Wales, we explore how such images are deployed by learners. We argue that while learners’ views of mathematicians parallel in key ways popular discourses, they are not passively absorbing these as they are simultaneously aware of the clichéd nature of popular cultural images.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Uncontrolled Keywords: gender; mathematics; popular culture; schools; social justice
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 0305-764X
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:31
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/19175

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