Employability and school uniform policies: Projecting the employer’s gaze

A Olosson, Rachel K Shanks* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article examines employability discourse within school uniform policies as a way to justify uniform. The uniform policy of every publicly funded secondary school in Scotland (n=357) was studied using content and discourse analysis. Employability discourse was grouped into three themes: School as preparation for work; school to replicate a work environment; and young people creating a good impression for employers. The rationale of the uniform is revealed as a technology through which the employer’s gaze is projected onto pupils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628–645
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Early online date5 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Open access via Sage R&P agreement
We wish to thank the students who were involved in the original sourcing and coding of school uniform policies, namely Lucas Adrian Brauns, Agata Kostrzewa, Marton Kottmayer, Kirsten Phelps, Daniel Phillips, Vilma Pullinen, Atyrah Hanim Razali, Cameron Roy, Maria Steiner Simonsen, and particularly Jasper Friedrich who provided feedback on this work. We also wish to thank Prof Pamela Abbott for her insightful comments on an early draft of the manuscript and the two reviewers who provided very useful feedback.


  • Employability
  • Foucault
  • school dress code
  • school uniform
  • secondary school


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