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Developing governmentality : conduct(3) and education policy

Gillies, Donald (2008) Developing governmentality : conduct(3) and education policy. Journal of Educational Policy, 23 (4). pp. 415-427. ISSN 0268-0939

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Abstract

This article examines education policy and the policy process in the light of two key concepts. The first is the concept of 'governmentality' from the work of Michel Foucault (1991). The second is the concept of 'political spectacle' from the work of Murray Edelman (1985, 1988). Taking note, further, of recent work by Fairclough (2000) on political 'spin' and rhetoric, the article suggests that education policy needs to be seen in the light of a more modern stress in governance which recognises that 'the conduct of the conduct of conduct' (the management and presentation of policy - the conduct3 of the title) is not only of electoral relevance but has considerable implications for education and policy. The article probes the ways in which current education policy in the UK is affected by conduct3 and attempts to place it within the Foucauldian governmentality framework. It suggests that while conduct3 can be understood as a modern variant of the Machiavellian concern with sovereignty, it is also associated with the neoliberal marketisation of democracy. On this reading, it can be considered as a mutation of liberal governmentality, serving to undermine some of its key principles.