Teacher stress and the management of accountability

Alexa Hepburn, Steven D. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


In this article we explore how teachers can draw upon the language of stress to perform strategically important and often politically sensitive social acts. Our aim will be to show that the description of teaching problems as a matter of 'stress' has important social and political implications for teachers. To do this we draw upon interviews with Scottish secondary school teachers; these interviews have been subjected to close textual analysis, informed by some of the basic principles of discursive psychology. The analysis shows teachers fexiby employing stress as a way of managing their own accountability, and of making sense of their institutional roles and relationships. To conclude, we suggest that employing stress as an individualized category not only suppresses its flexibility, but also encourages both teachers and their employers to offer token measures to manage it at a psychological level, rather than engaging in proper debate about the state of the profession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-715
Number of pages25
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Accountability
  • Discursive psychology
  • Power
  • Teacher stress


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