23 SES 13 B, Media and Politics in Education
The strong focus, not least in the media, on failure, crisis and decline within international education policy debate in recent decades serves as background to this paper (c fThomas 2011, Slater 2015). Of interest is how a media discourse on education operates to construct dominating understandings of education missions and subjectifications of teachers. A specific interest is to listen out for possible whispers from alternative discourses.
The aim of the study is to investigate the workings of the media as an apparatus in relation to spaces/conditions of possibility for schooling and the positioning and subjectification of teachers and to search for discourses that are alternative to the dominant ones. Two empirical examples of media discourse on education are analysed to illustrate this.
The research questions are:
1. How is the media as an apparatus constituted?
2. What space/condition of possibility for schooling is evoked?
3. Which teacher matter is invited, how is it positioned and subjectified?
4. Which alternative discourses are actualised?
The questions of the study depart from approaches to public discourse with a focus on the media as apparatus (Foucault 1977) and on spaces/conditions of possibility and subject positioning (Foucault 1982) related to education and teachers.This approach to discourse makes the assumption of discourse and language as representational difficult.Barad (2007:90) proposes an agential realism that ‘aschews representionalism’ by insisting on matter as generative. In this approach materiality is seen as a constant transformative force. New Media Theory applies such a perspective on the media and considers a given medium in terms of a Faucauldian apparatus (Horn 2008, Parikka 2012). An apparatus, in this understanding, is something that manifests knowledge by ‘heterogeneous ensembles’ (Foucault 1977: 194). Deleuze similarly describes the apparatus in terms of a collective assemblage of selection, ordering and connections (Deleuze & Parnet 2006).Introducing the connecting material as a force and not accepting the dichotomy of symbolic vs. material those theories are useful approaches for this study.
Examining the media discourse of education policy means dealing with the taken for grantedness of what education is all about. Deleuze and Guattari (1983) describe such taken for granted ideas about what must be as ordered by signifier systems; the combined effect of an endless mass of non-agent social forces that form despotic systems. These despotic signifier systems often results in ‘boxing up difference’ and the improbability of other ways of understanding education (Kaustuv 2003:12).
According to Deleuze, signs arise whenever we encounter difference/distinctions and we map our reality by means of them. He uses the concept of dominant signification to describe how the chaotic mass of endless difference is formed into pre-existing moulds by the molar line of power. This molarising effect categorises signs into categories that tend to reify into taken for granted events/objects/subjectivities (Deleuze 1990, Kaustuv 2003:14).
Deleuze’s theories also give hope in that this process can be reverted to release multitudes from the dominant regimes of signification. According to Deleuze, all statements arise from indirect discourse; the multiplicious murmurs and presuppositions that are temporarily suppressed for the illusion of clear speech (Kaustuv 2003). All use of language is thus understood in terms of heterogeneity that is morphed into distinctness by order words that make "things fall into line with prevailing social norms and expectations" (Kaustuv 2003:28).In the study those possibilities of otherness are specifically looked for in the hope of hearing murmurs of discourses alternative to those dominant.
Barad K. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham N C: Duke University Press Deleuze, G 1990. The Logic of Sense. New York: Colombia University Press Deleuze, G & Guattari, F 1983. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University Press Deleuze, G. & Parnet, C. 2006. Dialogues II. London, New York: Continuum Foucault, M. 1977. The contour of the flesh. In Colin Gordon. Power/Knowledge. Selected interviews and other writings 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon Foucault, M. 1982. The Subject and Power. Critical Inquiry 8 (4), p 777-795 Horn, E. 2007. There are no media. Grey Room 29 :4-5 doi:10.1162/grey.2007.1.29.4 Kaustuv, R. 2003. Teachers in Nomadic Spaces. Deleuze and Curriculum. New York: Peter Lang Mazzei, L. & McCoy, K. 2010 Thinking with Deleuze in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 23 (5): 503-509 Parikka, J. 2012. What is Media Archeology? Cambridge and Molden, MA: Polity Press Säfström, C. A. 2014. The passion of teaching at the border of order. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, DOI: 10.1080/1359866X.2014.956045 Slater, G. B. 2015. Education as recovery: neoliberalism, school reform, and the politics of crisis. Journal of Education Policy 30 (1): 1-20 Thomas, S. (2011): Teachers and public engagement: an argument for rethinking teacher professionalism to challenge deficit discourses in the public sphere. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32 (3) p 371-382
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