23 SES 11 B, Post-Critical Policy Scholarship? Deliberations around Ontological and Epistemological Politics
We discuss here research from an Australian Research Council Discovery Project: Learning for Teaching in Disadvantaged Schools (ID: DP160102784). The project involves partnering with schools where we are developing dissensual, transversal methodologies that cut across boundaries and work into the (im)possibility of redistributing the sense (Rancière, 2004) of globalizing discourses of policy (and research and schooling) as numbers (Lingard, 2011) that have unforeseeable effects on schools serving high poverty communities. We think that our policy research ‘critique from afar’ may have run out of steam (Heimans & Singh, 2018). New solidarities are necessary for working in and against the desiccated certainty of numbers and the ontological insecurity that poverty and eviscerated, economised schooling practices can cause. This extends our research on policy enactments and ontological politics (Singh, Heimans, & Glasswell, 2014) to explore the contradictions and predicaments of ‘critical–dissensual collaborations’ (Heimans & Singh, 2018). Here we discuss dissensus drawing on Rancière’s (2009) proposals connecting dissensus to politics and democracy, and Helen Verran’s work (2015) on divergent ontologies and practices. These different versions of dissensus are generative in our partnership research and we reflect on how a divergent ‘we’ might be constituted therein; how the various capacities that are ‘sensible’ in the ‘we’ align and dis-align with roles and positions in how ‘sense’ is distributed- and what the ethical and epistemological consequences are (see Barad, 2007). We also discuss the ambiguity of collaboration. On one hand collaboration means to ‘work with’ which has a positive connotation relating to working cooperatively with others to achieve (putatively) shared goals. On the other hand a more negative connotation concerns working, or conspiring, with the enemy. So, are we working with allies or enemies (or both, or neither?)? When undertaking education policy research with schools (see Singh et al., 2014), we wonder how we can work together as employees of the ‘state’ and yet also work against the ‘state’ (eg. to strengthen schools resources to deal with high-stakes testing) in order to change policy on the ground. This work extends the conceptualisation of enactment that Stephen Ball and colleagues have made; from focusing on ‘how schools do policy’ (Ball, Maguire, & Braun, 2012) to how researchers and schools (re)do policy together. This paper is part of our attempt to frame this redoing of policy with a politics of dissensus and to develop alternative resources to those that enable a ‘god’s eye view’ of policy research.
Ball, S., Maguire, M., & Braun, A. (2012). How schools do policy: policy enactments in secondary schools. New York: Routledge. Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press. Heimans, S., & Singh, P. (2018). Putting the steam back into critique?‘Gathering’ for critical–dissensual collaborations in education policy research. Policy Futures in Education, 16(2), 185-201. doi:10.1177/1478210317736209 Lingard, B. (2011). Policy as numbers: ac/counting for educational research. The Australian Educational Researcher, 38(4), 355-382. doi:10.1007/s13384-011-0041-9 Rancière, J. (2004). The politics of aesthetics: the distribution of the sensible. London; New York: Continuum. Singh, P., Heimans, S., & Glasswell, K. (2014). Policy enactment, context and performativity: ontological politics and researching Australian National Partnership policies. Journal of Education Policy, 29(6), 826-844. doi:10.1080/02680939.2014.891763
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