Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Done, E.J., Knowler, H.
Painful invisibilities: Roll management or ‘off-rolling’ and professional identity (2020) British Educational Research Journal, 46 (3), pp. 516-531.

DOI: 10.1002/berj.3591

‘Off-rolling’ is widely defined as the illegal removal of students from a school roll, unlike permanent exclusion, which involves sanctioned formal procedures. It is a practice that brings very different logics, political agendas, governmental imperatives and the associated matter of school leader professional identity into sharp relief. Deviant professional identities have already been discursively constituted, despite the current lack of research into the motivation of senior school leaders who engage in ‘off-rolling’. This article draws on Foucault to explore tensions between a political standards and an inclusion agenda, and to consider how the professional identities of senior school leaders are shaped such that ‘off-rolling’ becomes possible. It is suggested that chronic underfunding of the inclusion agenda has combined with what England’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) now describes as an over-emphasis on academic performance to create unsustainable pressures on many senior school leaders. The descriptor ‘contextual roll management’ may therefore be more appropriate. The moral outrage which accompanies public and political discourse around ‘off-rolling’ is theorised with reference to Apple, Ball and Popkewitz. Such moral indignation distracts attention from the wider socio-political and economic context within which schools are now required to deliver academic progress and inclusion. We conclude the article by outlining key empirical questions that have yet to be addressed. © 2019 British Educational Research Association

Author Keywords
educational policy; inclusion; professional identity; roll management; ‘off-rolling’

Young, H., Jerome, L.
Student voice in higher education: Opening the loop
(2020) British Educational Research Journal, 46 (3), pp. 688-705.

DOI: 10.1002/berj.3603

UK national policy and the practices of university course boards tend to reduce understandings of ‘student voice’ to a feedback loop. In this loop, students express feedback, the university takes this on board, then they tell the students how they have responded to their feedback. The feedback loop is a significant element of the neoliberal imaginary of higher education globally. This qualitative research study drew on interviews with course representatives in three universities in England, and on policy analysis, to explore the discursive construction and enactment of student voice. It uses the feedback loop as an analytical frame. Drawing on Foucault’s later work, the article aims to open up the feedback loop by exploring its manifestation in the mundane everyday practices of universities. In opening the loop, we identify the following effects of the student voice policy ensemble: students have to construct feedback as it is not just waiting to be gathered; it promotes a dividing practice, where reps are positioned differently to other students; there is a focus on problems; an ‘us and them’ is reinforced between staff and students; the loop closes down discussion; and a managerial logic obscures political processes. The article articulates its opening of the loop as a way of unmasking the modes of power which work through discourses of ‘student voice’, and hence seeks to create possibilities for resistance to being governed this way. © 2020 British Educational Research Association

Author Keywords
course representative; feedback loop; student engagement; student satisfaction

Nancy Ettlinger (2020) Unbounding ‘states of exception’, reconceptualizing precarity, Space and Polity

DOI: 10.1080/13562576.2020.1755645

This provocation unbounds ‘state of exception’ to account for its sustainability and its role in daily life. I argue that sustaining a ‘state of exception’ requires a governmentality to govern and render the exceptional ‘normal’ over time, pointing to the mutual constitution of the two modes of governance. The omnipresent condition of possible shifts between sovereignty and governmentality relocates precarity from a statically defined objectified circumstance to the active slippage between these two fields of power. Yet whereas a ‘state of exception’ can become normalized, subjectivity cannot because the configuration of individuals’ multiple subjectivities differs relative to their lived experiences.

KEYWORDS: Governmentality, sovereign power, state of exception, precarity, subjectivity

Patricio Lepe-Carrión, Biopolítica: somatocracia y medicina social, In COVID19. La comunicación en tiempos de pandemia, 2020

PDF of article

En octubre de 1974, Michel Foucault visitó la Universidad del Estado de Guanabara (que después sería la de Río de Janeiro) en Brasil, donde dictó una serie de seis conferencias en el Instituto de Medicina Social. En la segunda de ellas, titulada «Nacimiento de la medicina social» (Foucault, 2001b), es donde aparece por primera vez la noción de biopolítica. El concepto no era de su invención, lo tomó prestado del filósofo sueco Rudolf Kjellén, y tampoco fue una categoría de batalla al interior de su obra, puesto que lo abandonó muy temprano para dar paso a la idea de gubernamentalidad.

Dada la emergencia sanitaria por la que atravesamos hoy, ha sido —ciertamente— un concepto muy atractivo para la academia en general, convirtiéndose en una suerte de trending topic en la esfera de circulación de artículos y columnas de opinión. Sin embargo, pocas veces hallamos lecturas atentas respecto a los usos restringidos o contextualizados de la categoría en cuestión. Al parecer, el abuso de la consigna de Wittgenstein sobre la «caja de herramientas» ha hecho del martillo un serrucho, y de la biopolítica una noción relativa a conspiraciones perversas de un grupo de sociópatas manipulando la vida de la población (nada más lejano al pensamiento de Foucault). Daniele Lorenzini (2020) ha hecho notar brillantemente este último punto en una columna reciente


David Langwallner on Foucault’s Panopticon
Audio interview on Soundcloud

Human Rights Lawyer David Langwallner discusses the idea of the Panopticon that Michel Foucault borrowed from Jeremy Bentham to describe the all-seeing eye of the prison. Foucault argued that this has been internalised and led to a series of restraints on our natural inclinations, which have been amplified in turn by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Spaaij, R., Knoppers, A., Jeanes, R.
“We want more diversity but…”: Resisting diversity in recreational sports clubs (2020) Sport Management Review, 23 (3), pp. 363-373.

DOI: 10.1016/j.smr.2019.05.007

Open access

Participation in sport is highly valued by governments and policy makers. Policies and programs encourage participation of populations who are underrepresented in sport. In many countries sport participation is possible primarily under the auspices of voluntary sports clubs, many of which name demographic diversity as an organizational value. Underrepresented population groups continue to lag, however, in participating in sports clubs. Change has been slow in coming. Relatively little research focuses on resistance by those in positions of leadership to the entry or involvement of underrepresented or marginalized population groups into sports clubs. The purpose of this paper is to develop insight into why change may be so slow in coming even though demographic diversity is purportedly highly valued. Drawing on Raby’s (2005) conceptualizations of practices of resistance, on empirical research on diversity in recreational sports clubs and on work by Foucault, the authors identify six discursive practices that those in positions of leadership in sport clubs draw on to resist diversity: speech acts, moral boundary work, in-group essentialism, denial/silencing, self-victimization, and bodily inscription. The authors conclude that resistance to diversity in sport clubs has emerged from a confluence of discourses that enable noncompliance at the micro level with the use of a macro-level discourse of diversity. © 2019 The Authors

Author Keywords
Community sport; Discursive practices; Diversity; Leadership; Resistance; Sport organizations

Pinkerton, P.
The biopolitics of the migration-development nexus: Governing migration in the UK (2019) Politics, 39 (4), pp. 448-463.

DOI: 10.1177/0263395718809287

While politicians in the United Kingdom (UK) have engaged in fractious debate over the appropriate way of responding to the myriad issues arising from the so-called migration or refugee crisis in recent years, there is an apparent cross-party consensus regarding the ability of overseas aid and development spending to reduce levels of global economic migration. This suggests that the central tenets of what is known in the policy literature as the ‘migration-development nexus’ have been accepted by the political establishment in the UK, demonstrating a belief that development spending can be used to ameliorate the global economic inequalities seen as giving rise to mass migration. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s concepts of biopolitics, governmentality, and subjectification, this article argues that the migration-development nexus represents a technology for enacting a strategy of governance that operates through a dual process of enticing and maintaining mobile subjects. It is then suggested that in the UK context, this operates through the temporary nature of the time-limited visa regime, which allows migrants from outside the European Union to be ‘governed through mobility’. The article therefore illustrates how mobility can be central to governing logics, as well as something that can exceed them. © The Author(s) 2018.

Author Keywords
biopolitics; Foucault; governance; migration-development nexus; mobility

Index Keywords
European Union, governance approach, migration, refugee, social mobility; United Kingdom

Corfee, F., Cox, L., Windsor, C.
The constitution of space in intensive care: Power, knowledge and the othering of people experiencing mental illness
(2020) Nursing Inquiry, 27 (2), art. no. e12328.

DOI: 10.1111/nin.12328

A sociological conceptualisation of space moves beyond the material to the relational, to consider space as a social process. This paper draws on research that explored the reproduction of legitimated knowledge and power structures in intensive care units during encounters, between patients, who were experiencing mental illness, and their nurses. Semi-structured telephone interviews with 17 intensive care nurses from eight Australian intensive care units were conducted in 2017. Data were analysed through iterative cycling between participants’ responses, the literature and the theoretical framework. The material and relational aspects of space in this context constitute a dynamic process that is concerned with the reproduction of everyday life, the preservation of the biomedical authority of intensive care, and the social othering of people experiencing mental illness. The work of theorists such as Löw, Harvey and Foucault underpins the exploration of space as a multi-dimensional, malleable social process that both produces and is the product of social interaction and the social world. In this paper, we argue that the performative work of knowledge and power production and reproduction, considered here in relation to intensive care spaces, enables ongoing othering and disenfranchisement of people experiencing mental illness. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Author Keywords
consumer; intensive care; mental health; othering; power; space

Rantala, A., Heikkilä, M.
Agency, guidance and gender–interrelated aspects of early childhood education settings (2020) Education 3-13, 48 (4), pp. 483-493.

DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2019.1620305

Social interaction is one of the many things what preschool life is about, and how social life is constituted is of importance to understand. In early childhood education settings, children are guided and fostered by teachers and by each other in different directions. The overall aim of the article is to make a contribution to a deeper understanding of how children’s agency is performed as a constantly gendered social activity and how this is affected by the guidance they receive from teachers. The relationship between agency, gender and guidance is scrutinised. By using Foucault’s concepts discipline and power in combination with understandings of childhood and gender order this is explored. The empirical material consists of ethnographic observations in two preschools, and the results show how agency, gender and guidance need to be understood as relational processes when highlighting aspects of children’s social life in ECE. © 2019, © 2019 ASPE.

Author Keywords
children’s agency; early childhood education; ethnography; gender; guidance; Preschool

Michiel T’Jampens & Jelle Versieren (2020) Entering the Archive: “Il faut défendre la société” and Michel Foucault’s Critical Archeological Inquiry into the History and Method of Genealogy, Critical Horizons,
DOI: 10.1080/14409917.2020.1790753

In “Il faut défendre la société”, Foucault attempted to historicize and criticize Nietzsche’s equating of the social with struggle. In order to do so, Foucault produced a descriptive discursive history of his genealogical project by deploying the method of the critical archaeology. Foucault realized thereinafter that his archaeological exposition of the genealogical discourse in fact laid bare a close historical and conceptual bond between genealogy and modern racial discourses. In the first lectures, Foucault, unearthed the genealogical discourse hidden in the literature written by the nobility as they attempted to resist the centralisation of royal power. In the latter part of his lectures, he described a discursive interplay between genealogy-as-struggle and the biopolitical practices of the modern state. As such, he gave a tentatively description how the modern state inherited and extensively applied the notion of struggle in its biopolitical control on its populations. The immoral and historical consequences of this affinity, resulting in the biopolitics of genocide, warranted Foucault to distance himself from Nietzsche’s concept, which in effect resulted in rethinking the social within the framework of gouvernmentalité, in which struggle was a modality rather than the prime mover of society.

KEYWORDS: Michel Foucault, biopolitics, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri de Boulainvilliers, absolutism, genealogy

%d bloggers like this: