Elise Hunkin, Deploying Foucauldian genealogy: Critiquing ‘quality’ reform in early childhood policy in Australia, Power and Education March 1, 2016 8: 35-53
The last two decades have seen the emergence of a global education paradigm that has reimagined education through the lens of neo-liberal ideology. Education policy agendas and discourses in current times are globally governed through transnational networks, which have increased the opaqueness of education policymaking. For critical policy researchers, the challenge is to respond with new methodologies that can capture and critique the increasingly diffuse, fractured nature of contemporary policy processes. This article presents one such methodology, where Foucauldian genealogy is used to construct a history of the discourse of ‘quality’ in early childhood reform policy in Australia. The genealogical approach is combined with ‘network ethnography’, which uses interviews with policy actors and the construction of policy network and mobility maps to undertake a governmentality analysis of discourse production. The preliminary findings emphasize the global spread of a positivist discourse of quality, and discuss its neo-liberal ideological ties and policy uses in Australian early childhood policy. The tactical use of human capital theory in the Australian Early Years Learning Framework is uncovered, wherein government discourse control resulted in the creation of learning outcomes for children, intended for use as a performativity structure.
Early childhood education quality critical policy analysis genealogy discourse Australia