chapter  5
10 Pages

Education policies as discursive formations

A Foucauldian optic
WithEva Bendix Petersen

Theorist Michel Foucault's scholarship is rich and complex and the implications for policy analysis are many. First of all one might ponder what a policy does. This question can be explored in many ways, but if one think education policies against the insights Foucault offers in his book "Discipline and punish", one can consider how policies are part of a modern form of governing at a distance. Foucault describes how governmental technologies changed from the late sixteenth century, from the spectacle of the public execution to the mundane but in some ways no more humane disciplinary technologies of institutions such as prisons and schools. In some take-ups of Foucault's perspective a policy is said to be a discourse. Theoretical concept such as 'discourse' sits in a larger methodological ensemble, where some coherence between onto-epistemological perspective, conceptual apparatus, research methods, researcher positioning and so forth is required. Discourses are practices that systematically constitute the objects of which they speak.