Dr Francesca Peruzzo

Dr Francesca Peruzzo

School of Education
Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Francesca Peruzzo is a Research Fellow in Educational Equity and Policy. Her research interests lie in the intersection between politics, policy, education governance and inclusion, using in particular post-structural and decolonial approaches. More specifically, her work focusses on the analysis of education policies and inclusive education, exploring the role of the state, processes of privatisation and the effects that enactment of national policies and global dynamics have for both equity of opportunities and educational experiences of disadvantaged and disabled children at the intersection of different social markers.

Expert in critical ethnographic methods and network governance, she has published widely on ableism and higher education policy, and in the fields of sociology of education and critical disability studies, policy sociology and critical inclusion studies. Currently, she researching decolonial and inclusive governance in the Global South and North and its implications for equity of opportunities in a post-pandemic education.The author of the book Students, teachers, families, and a socially just education: Rewriting the grammar of schooling to unsettle identities (with Julie Allan) published by Lived Places Publishing, and her research has been funded by the YTL Foundation, the Sociological Review Foundation and the Department for Education.


  • PhD Sociology of Education (UCL – Institute of Education, London)
  • MA Work, Organisations, and Informative Systems (University of Trento, Italy)
  • LLP Erasmus Programme MA level (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain)
  • BA Sociology (University of Trento, Italy)


Francesca’s academic work intersects education policy, social and political theory, and inclusion, being primarily shaped by scholarship in education policy sociology, Critical Inclusion Studies, and Critical Disability Studies. 

In particular, she focuses on the analysis of the relations between global perspectives on inclusion and national and local policy enactments, the role played by major political and economic dynamics (especially neoliberalism and privatisation) in steering such enactments, and the impact that these have for equity of opportunities and educational experiences of disabled, minoritized and disadvantaged children at the intersection of multiple social markers. 

She has a particular interest in analysing how processes of policy enactment shape education governance and individuals’ self-governance, genealogically exploring how historical, cultural, and political conditions shape subjectivities and individuals’ and social groups’ possibilities of being and doing in, and beyond, educational contexts. My most recent work explores the modalities in which digital governance shapes subjectivities, teachers’ experiences, and the forms of state education. 

In her work, she problematise the limits that the project of modernity and the Enlightenment, rooted in the Global North, pose for thinking education otherwise. Through a decolonial lens, she exposes the ableist, racist, patriarchal and classist dynamics shaped by a certain capitalist formation of the state, questioning the Western roots of Sociology of Education and inclusion policy studies. her aim is to decolonise inclusive education in ways that respect other modalities of being and doing in educational communities. Currently, she is exploring such possibilities through the encounter of digital and non-digital technologies in educational contexts.

Her other interest lies in ableism and policy enactment in higher education, and the impact that neoliberal governance has for disabled students’ experiences and subjectivities in increasingly ableist and exclusionary higher education institutions, you can read some of her recent work.

Francesca’s doctoral thesis was a policy genealogy of disability in the Italian higher education and currently she is collaborating with disabled student activists in higher education co-researching modalities to make universities more socially just, inclusive and equitable contexts

Her research mobilises qualitative analytical tools, many of them borrowed from Foucault’s toolbox, and she merges dispositif, assemblage and network theory with governmentality studies, critical policy and discourse analysis and ethnographic methods. Her perspective embraces co-production and collaboration with local groups and communities to validate modalities of thinking and doing that are other than the ones exported and mobilised by Western countries, validating local expertise, community knowledge and pluralising modalities of being. 

Her research agenda is always impact-oriented and committed to co-create change towards more equitable and socially just education systems. To do so, she collaborate with individuals, communities and grassroots organisations that experience first-hand marginalisation and discrimination and steer education policy on a government level, so to impact on school experiences and learning path-ways and shape more inclusive educational futures.


Higher Education Policy Postgraduate Programme (Educational Equity Initiative, School of Education)

Postgraduate supervision

  • Bethan Morris-Tran  
  • Lucy Bartlett (Masters by Research). Dissertation’s title: To what extent different cultures can impact the way guidelines for SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) support are perceived and acted upon: A comparative study between Japan and England.


Research interests 

  • Policy sociology
  • Educational governance and governmentality approach
  • Critical Inclusive education and inclusion policy
  • Educational theory and post-structural approaches to educational policy and practice
  • Disability, Special Educational Needs and intersectional inequities
  • Digital technologies and digital education governance
  • Decolonial theory and approaches
  • Ableism and inequities in higher education contexts 

 Current projects 

  • Teachers for Educational Equity – Research Lead, Educational Equity Initiative, 2023-2026
  • The RESET Education Project (Renewal, tEchnologies, and Solidarity for Education fuTures) study into children and teachers’ views on how technologies can remove barriers to inclusion and make education more solidary and equitable post pandemic, Research Lead, 2021-2022. Website: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/education/research/projects/the-education-reset-project.aspx
  • Political Activism, Ethics and Disabled students in and beyond Higher Education. (with Dr Rille Raaper, Durham University, and Mette Westander, Founding Director, Disabled Students UK). 

Past projects

  • DIGITAL in the time of Coronavirus (Diversifying Inclusion and Growth: Inspiring Technologies for Accessible Learning) Study of regenerative practices of inclusion through convivial digital technologies across schools and organisations in England, Italy, Chile, US, Australia, Malaysia.  https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/education/research/projects/transforming-education.aspx
  • Rhetoric or game changer: Social dialogue and industrial relations in education midst EU governance and privatisation in Europe  ETUCE – Education International – University of Naples, Research Lead: Policy Network Analysis and Network Ethnography Italian and European Levels, funded by EU – Horizon 2020 (VP/2019/004/0021), 2020-2021

Other activities

  • UK Cabinet Office Consultant – Rapid Assessment Evaluation on Disability and Independent Living in the UK – Evidence, Cross-government Disability Unit, UK Cabinet Office, London.
  • Member of SEN Policy Research Forum, England, UK
  • Member ofBirmingham Research in Education Policy (BREP)Group, School of Education
  • Member ofLaboratory of Digital Education, University Federico II, Naples – CNR, Rome
  • Member of PRIVATOPIA, Research Network on the Privatisation of European Education
  • Editorial Board Member of the Italian Journal of Disability Studies, Rome, Italy.
  • Executive Member of the Event Committee British Academy ECR Network Midlands Consortium
  • SEND Educator at Share Communities, Registered Charity, London.


Allan, J. and Peruzzo, F. (2023). Students, Teachers, Families and a Socially Just Education: Rewriting the Grammar of Schooling to Unsettle Identities.  

Peruzzo, F. (2023). Is it all a matter of liberation? Policy genealogical reflections on the enactment of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. In A. Beckett and A. M. Callus (Eds.) The Routledge International Handbook of Children’s Rights and Disability. New York: Routledge, chapter 29 

Grimaldi, E.; Ball, S.J. and Peruzzo, F. (2023). Platformization and the enactment of multiple economic forms: the rise of a neoliberal moral economy of education. In C. Cobo and A. Rivas (Eds.). The New Digital Education Policy Landscape: From Systems to Platforms. New York: Routledge, chapter 7, pp. 122-146

Peruzzo, F. and Allan, J. (2022). Rethinking Inclusive (Digital) Education: Lessons from the Pandemic to Reconceptualise Inclusion through Convivial Technologies. Journal of Learning, Media and Technologies, online first https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2022.2131817

Peruzzo, F.; Ball, S.J. and Grimaldi, E. (2022). Peopling the crowded education state: heterarchical spaces, EdTech markets and new modes of governing during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Educational Research, Volume 114, 102006, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2022.102006  

Raaper R. and Peruzzo, F. (2022). Disabled students doing activism: Borrowing from and trespassing neoliberal reason in English higher education. Power and Education, online first https://doi.org/10.1177/17577438221117772

Peruzzo, F. (2022). Working within and beyond the norm: policy and ethics of doing disability. In M. Tamboukou (Ed.). Thinking with Stephen J. Ball: Lines of Flight in Education. London and New York: Routledge, chapter 8, pp. 131-146.

Peruzzo, F. (2021). A call to rethink the Global North university: Mobilising disabled students’ experiences through the encounter of Critical Disability Studies and Epistemologies of the South. Special Issue: Education and the Production of Inequalities: Dialogues from the Global South and North, Journal of Sociology, 58(3), 1-18 https://doi.org/10.1177/14407833211029381

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