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Dr Joseph Maslen

Education Studies
0151 291 3948 .

Dr Joseph Maslen is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Education & Policy Analysis. He researches social mobility in UK Government policy.

Since his breakthrough article Cracking the Code (2,700+ reads), he has gained greater recognition, giving an invited talk at Oxford University in 2018, externally examining courses at other universities, peer reviewing for top journals including British Educational Research Journal and Journal of Education Policy, and being an invited voter for the Times Higher Education's Global Academic Reputation Survey for the first time in 2021/22.

Most significant/recent research papers

Maslen, J. 2022. Do the Conservatives Believe in Social Mobility? Political Quarterly, 93(1), 104-111. doi:10.1111/1467-923X.13107.

Maslen, J. 2019. Cracking the Code: The Social Mobility Commission and Education Policy Discourse. Journal of Education Policy, 34(5), 599-612. doi:10.1080/02680939.2018.1449891.

Research findings in brief

Dr Maslen's research on the dominant discourse of social mobility in schools has found that:
1. It envisions children competing against each other, with the successful ones 'winning the race for good jobs'.
2. Because not everyone can win, the focus is on the individual not the collective.
3. The ideal child in the dominant discourse, therefore, is a ruthlessly determined or 'unleashed' competitor (against other children), as is the ideal educator, competing against other educators on the child's behalf.
4. Simultaneously, however, schools are seen as facilitating this competition by technologies and systems of control. The regulation of school life proposed within the dominant discourse includes, for example, labels on teachers' doors that disclose their educational backgrounds, strict uniforms, silent corridors, and statistical comparisons with rival schools.
5. How this 'unleashed' individual is to thrive within the surveillance culture of schools has not been reconciled.

Academic role

Established in 2021/22 as the curriculum lead for the second year of the Education degree programme, Dr Maslen lectures mainly on the history of education.

'incredible tutor ... made me enjoy history again' - dissertation acknowledgements, 2017

'loved my history classes with Joseph ... I feel excited to go on his zoom calls' - internal pre-NSS survey, 2021

Main career milestones at Hope (2014-)

2016: began co-leading the University-level community of practice in Research-Informed Teaching
2017: awarded Commendation for Excellence in Hope's Learning and Teaching Awards
2018: awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy
2021: involved in the production of the University's overall Institutional Environment Statement (IES) for REF2021


Dr Maslen received his BA, MA and PhD from the history department at the University of Manchester. Postgraduate funding came from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Board/Council, first an AHRB MA studentship (2003/4) and then another full AHRB/C studentship (awarded 2004) covering his doctoral research.

Current funded project

$188,966 from Templeton Religion Trust/University of Oklahoma for 2-year project (2019-21) - Personal Liberty, Mutual Respect and Tolerance: From Values to Virtues (co-investigator)

List of works in publication

Maslen, J. 2022. Do the Conservatives Believe in Social Mobility? Political Quarterly, advanced online publication. doi:10.1111/1467-923X.13107.

Maslen, J. 2019. Cracking the Code: The Social Mobility Commission and Education Policy Discourse. Journal of Education Policy, 34(5), 599-612. doi:10.1080/02680939.2018.1449891.

Maslen, J. 2017. The Working Class Girl of the 1970s: Reconstructing the Theoretical Field of Carolyn Steedman's The Tidy House. History of Education, 46(1), 94-107. doi:10.1080/0046760X.2016.1161082.

Maslen, J. 2014. Social Movements in British History: The Invention of a Rebel Tradition? Social Movement Studies, 13(4), 514-518. doi:10.1080/14742837.2013.844065.

Maslen, J. 2013. Autobiographies of a Generation? Carolyn Steedman, Luisa Passerini and the Memory of 1968. Memory Studies, 6(1), 23-36. doi:10.1177/1750698012463891.

Maslen, J. 2012. Questioning the Cultural Memory of the 1960s: Communist Narratives in Contemporary British History. In E. Boesen et al (Eds.), Peripheral Memories: Public and Private Forms of Experiencing and Narrating the Past (pp. 203-218). Columbia University Press/Transcript-Verlag. ISBN: 9783837621167.

Maslen, J. 2010. History and the "Processing" of Class in Social Theory. In H.F. Dahms and L. Hazelrigg (Eds.), Theorizing the Dynamics of Social Processes (pp. 101-121) (Book Series: Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Volume 27). Emerald. ISBN: 9780857242235.

Maslen, J. 2010. The Personal Politics of Raphael Samuel. Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 33(1), 209-221. doi: 10.1353/bio.0.0160.

Maslen, J. 2009. Big Punning, Large Troping and Huge Riddling: Why and How Macbeth and Other Narrative Texts Are Important and How to Deal with Them. Sociological Research Online, 14(5). doi:10.5153/sro.2067.

Maslen, J. 2007. (Ed. with S. Deasey et al) Authentic Artifice: Cultures of the Real. European Studies Research Institute, University of Salford. ISBN: 9781902496498.

Maslen, J. 2006. (Ed. with C. Baker et al) Perspectives on Conflict. European Studies Research Institute, University of Salford. ISBN: 9781905732081.

Learning and teaching

Major responsibilities at the University have included:
  • Senior Ethics Lead, Faculty/School level | Jun 2021 - Sep 2021
  • Quality Learning & Teaching Committee, Faculty/School level | Jun 2017 - Jun 2019
  • Senior Academic Advisor, Faculty/School level | Jan 2017 - Feb 2019
  • co-Leader of Research-Informed Teaching Community of Practice, University level | Nov 2016 - Jun 2019
  • 'Key Practitioner' responsible for innovation in research-led teaching, Faculty/School level | Sep 2016 - Jun 2019

Lecturing contributions:
Doctoral supervisions:
  • Matt Thompson | EdD Sep 2020 - Pres
  • Nevan Hunter | EdD Oct 2018 - Pres
  • Zaina Shihabi | PhD Mar 2015 - May 2019

Joseph welcomes proposals from students for research projects themed around social mobility in UK Government policy.

News archive

Jan 22, 2019 Dr Joseph Maslen speaks to Oxford seminar on social mobility
May 24, 2018 Dr Joseph Maslen develops project on fundamental British values
Mar 20, 2018 Dr Joseph Maslen shares insights at Careers Convention
Mar 20, 2018 Dr Joseph Maslen joins History of Teachers special interest group