Normalizing Foucault? – A Rhizomatic Approach to Plateaus in Anglophone Educational Research

In  a  recent  analysis  of  anglophone  scholarship, Baker and Heyning considered both where and when Foucault’s name was made to live and also analyzed the kinds of work such naming has performed,  i.e., the substantive claims made  in the name of or through Foucault. In  regard  to where and when, the most marked uptake of Foucault occurred in the second half of the 1990s  in  the humanities  and  social  sciences,  with  the  field  of  philosophy indexing  the  earliest  discussions  of  his  work.

Three predominant uses of Foucault in education appeared:

  1. historicization  and  philosophizing  projects  with  relativization  emphases  (a more “problematizing” Foucault).
  2. denaturalization  projects  without  overt  historical  emphases  and  with diversity emphases (a more “sociological” Foucault).
  3. critical  reconstruction  projects  with  solution  emphases  (a  more “administrative” Foucault).

This paper  takes off  from Baker and Heyning’s survey of anglophone uses of Foucault by examining substantive examples of such recombinatorial approaches  to Foucault  and  the  plateaus they serve.  It  will suggest  that specific responses to Foucault’s work at the turn of  the  twenty‐first  century are sustained in part by historical propensities in the field to a) scientize and template  theoretical frameworks, b) normalize‐govern particular approaches as standardized methodology amid swirling and recombinatorial  tendencies, and c) carve out moralistic dualisms around their utility.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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