Open-plan schooling and everyday utopias: Australia and Denmark in the 1970s

Julie McLeod*, Lisa Rosén Rasmussen

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article explores the take-up and imaginaries of open-plan schooling during the 1970s, drawing on examples from Denmark and Victoria (Australia). As well as expressing new forms of classroom design and pedagogical praxis, open plan classrooms stood for reimagining schooling as a social institution and to possibilities for remaking student and teacher subjectivities. As a thoroughly transnational concept, the open-plan ethos was entwined with broader processes of social-cultural and political change and suffused with a critical optimism in its potential to inaugurate powerful transformations that extended beyond classrooms. We explore these aspects of open-plan schooling through Levitas´s (2013) typology of modes of utopia and Cooper´s (2013) concept of ‘everyday utopias’, arguing for closer attention to the decisive role of mundane practices in navigating what is ‘doable and viable’ in how open-plan classrooms were planned and enacted while also being attuned to a vision of another future. To analyse the interweaving of national, local and transnational processes in the making of open-plan ideas and practices, we draw upon Ingold´s (2011) notion of ‘meshwork’, proposing that local enactments of open-plan schools fold back into and contribute to building up different (transnational) conceptions of the open plan.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOxford Review of Education
Pages (from-to)659-680
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Open-plan schooling
  • community
  • everyday utopias
  • progressive education
  • school space
  • transnational educational concepts
  • Grundskole
  • Internationale komparative undersøgelser

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