Foucault News

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

Woo, E.
What is the problem represented to be in China’s world-class university policy? A poststructural analysis
(2022) Journal of Education Policy

DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2022.2045038

Abstract
Underlying current research on China’s world-class university (WCU) policy approaches are analytical foci that privilege the agency of social actors and the problem-solving approach to policy analysis. Foucauldian poststructuralists draw our attention to policy document, which is seen as a discourse that organizes and administers society. Inspired by Foucault, Carol Bacchi’s ‘What’s the Problem Represented to Be?’ approach (WPR) views policy document as a technology of governmentality. As proposed solutions to a problem, policy text produces the very problem that it seeks to address. Carol Bacchi draws our analytical attention to the rationalities, technologies of governing and subjectification effects created by particular problem representations in the WCU policy. Using WPR, this paper shows that WCU is represented as merely a technical, managerial and organizational problem. Such representations naturally reify WCU in material terms, such as research output, and in a temporal form of state planning. Genealogically, the root of WCU can be traced to the neoliberal movement of knowledge economy. However, Shanghai Ranking overturned this center-periphery landscape in disseminating the concept of WCU. China’s one-party state means that WCU is pursued at the expense of sacrificing social sciences and subjecting academics and students to become ‘red experts.’. © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
Chinese higher education; Chinese world-class universities; poststructural discourse analysis; WPR approach

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