Ball, S.J., Olmedo, A. Care of the self, resistance and subjectivity under neoliberal governmentalities
(2013) Critical Studies in Education, 54 (1), pp. 85-96.
Resistance is normally thought of as a collective exercise of public political activity. In this article, Ball and Olmedo approach the question of resistance in a different way, through Foucault’s notion of ‘the care of the self’. Neoliberal reforms in education are producing new kinds of teaching subjects, new forms of subjectivity. It makes sense then that subjectivity should be the terrain of struggle, the terrain of resistance. A set of e-mail exchanges with teachers, based around Ball’s work on performativity, enable the authors to access the work of power relations through the uncertainties, discomforts and refusals that these teachers bring to their everyday practice. By acting ‘irresponsibly’, these teachers take ‘responsibility’ for the care of their selves and in doing so make clear that social reality is not as inevitable as it may seem. This is not strategic action in the normal political sense. Rather it is a process of struggle against mundane, quotidian neoliberalisations, that creates the possibility of thinking about education and ourselves differently.
educational policy; Foucault; neoconservatism/neoliberalism; resistance; subjectivity