Governmentality of the contemporary institution of schooling and its effects upon teacher professionalism – an ethnographic case study

Torok, Robyn Therese (2010) Governmentality of the contemporary institution of schooling and its effects upon teacher professionalism – an ethnographic case study. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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This research study focused on the dynamics of power within a fundamentalist Christian school and how this impacted on teachers as professionals. The dynamics of power within the school were viewed in light of Foucault‘s concept of governmentality that incorporated many facets including: disciplinary power, bio-power, technologies of the self and pastoral power.

The study itself was a critical ethnographic case study of Green Hills Christian College that used a bricolage approach. Data was collected using critical ethnographic techniques and data sources including observations, interviews, field notes and documentary analysis. In addition, a new method termed ethno-symbology was developed that used abstract art to further elucidate and source check participants perceptions in the institutional setting. To enhance the contextual understanding, a historical analysis was also conducted incorporating Foucault‘s techniques of archaeology and genealogy. Results incorporated creative presentation styles (narratives and artwork) in three chapters that used a variety of analytic frameworks based on Foucault‘s work. The focus was on discursive and social practices, and what these suggested in terms of the dynamics of power present in the school.

Findings suggested that teachers were indeed subject to complex mechanisms of disciplinary power and pastoral power that aimed to create a certain type of teacher. Attempts were not only made to normalise or modify teacher actions but also create the desired attitudes and dispositions. Despite mechanisms of resistance, there were negative consequences for staff with many demonstrating high levels of stress and distress as reflected in both interviews, as well as the choices made in the selection and interpretation of artwork. Historical context allowed for a broader framing of the influences of fundamentalism within the school itself.

Overall, governmentality at Green Hills was formed by two key rationalities – spiritual and economic. These two rationalities were found to be very much interdependent. Finally, the implications of these findings for teacher professionalism are discussed with emphasis on aspects such as voice and relational trust.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Education
Supervisors: Andrews, Dorothy; Austin, Jon
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2010 04:49
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2016 02:53
Uncontrolled Keywords: schools; Christian schools; power; governmentality; Foucault; teachers
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership

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