Doctoral Seminar – Post-structuralist theories of power, resistance and possibility (27/11)
Thomas Hirschhorn, foucault map, 2004, cardboard, paper, plastic, foil, tape, prints, marker pen, 454x274 cm

Doctoral Seminar – Post-structuralist theories of power, resistance and possibility (27/11)

Image: Thomas Hirschhorn, foucault map, 2004, cardboard, paper, plastic, foil, tape, prints, marker pen, 454×274 cm

Post-structuralist theories of power, resistance and possibility
27/11, 14:00–16:00, BL2101

Post-structuralist theory is deployed by educational researchers to analyse a wide variety of phenomena, from the politics of schooling to institutional power, identity formation and everyday practice. Why? What do post-structuralist lenses illuminate in educational work, and what are their limitations? We will be focusing on the influence of the work of the late French philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault in this seminar.

Please prepare for the seminar by engaging with the common texts (and any of the background readings which help you understand it).


In addition, please select one element of your own research in which power relations are significant and create a representation of those relationships in a form that does not use words (e.g., a drawing, a concept map, an abstract representation, something aural, etc.). You can focus on an aspect of your research problem (such as political-economic forces, relationships between teachers and ideas or teachers and students) or of your methodology (for example, your relationship with participants, theirs to one another). All media and forms are encouraged.
Common texts

Please focus on the designated pages in each of the Foucault texts.

Vaughan, K. (2004) ‘Total eclipse of the heart? Theoretical and ethical implications of doing post-structural ethnographic research’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 25(3): 389–403 [via Library e-journals].

Click here for questions to guide your reading of Vaughan.

Foucault, M. (1980) ‘Questions of method’, online at http://www.mcgill.ca/files/crclaw-discourse/Foucault_Politics_Discourse.pdf.

  • section on ‘archaeology’, final para. of p. 59 to the first line of p. 61
  • section on ‘eventualization’, pp. 76–78

Foucault, M. (1982) ‘The subject and power’, Critical Inquiry, 8(4): 777–795 [via Library e-journals].

  • 788–795 (sections on ‘what constitutes the specific role of power’, ‘how is one to analyse the power relationship’, and ‘relations of power and relations of strategy’)

Supplementary reading

British Educational Research Association’s short guide to ‘Using Foucault in education research’, http://www.bera.ac.uk/resources/using-foucault-education-research

Michael Peters’ encyclopaedia entry on ‘Post-structuralism and education’, http://eepat.net/doku.php?id=poststructuralism_and_philosophy_of_education

See also

Stephen Ball’s work on post-structuralism for education, either Foucault, Power and Education (2012) or Education Reform: A Critical and Poststructuralist Approach (1994).

Deacon, R. (2006) ‘Michael Foucault on education: a preliminary theoretical overview’, South African Journal of Education, 26(2): 177–187, www.ajol.info/index.php/saje/article/download/25063/20733. ‎ 

Marks, J. (2013) ‘Things don’t have to be this way’ (Part 1), New Left Review, 31 January. http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/things_dont_have_to_be_this_way_part_1 and (Part 2), 5 February, http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/things_dont_have_to_be_this_way_part_2.

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