Problems, Politics, and Possibilities
Edited By Zsuzsanna Millei, Tom G. Griffiths and Robert John Parkes
Chapter IV: The Intricacies of Power Relations in Discourses of Secondary School Disciplinary Strategies - Rebecca Raby 43
43Chapter IV Chapter IV Introduction Scholars such as Pongratz (2007), Millei (2007) and Fendler (2001) reﬂect on a shift in recommended school disciplinary procedures towards “softer” guidance approaches, which seek to act upon the very soul of the child. We also see a concomitant reinforcement of traditionally authoritarian techniques reﬂected through a reliance on suspensions, for example, particularly within ‘zero tolerance’ policies. This chapter draws on policy documents and interviews with teachers and administrators from Ontario, Canada, to provide a neo- Foucauldian exploration of how three speciﬁc disciplinary strategies, as well as students’ potential participation in the creation of school rules, are presented and discussed. The three discipline-related strategies under consideration are escalating consequences, suspension, and social responsibility assessments. How these are addressed both in policy, such as codes of conduct, and by staff suggests that escalating consequences and suspension are primarily understood as disciplinary strategies intended to foster obedience, safety, deterrence and self-discipline. In contrast, social responsibility assessments entail an alternative strategy presented in the language of self-discipline, sociality and, particularly where they overlap with student participation, citizenship development. Michel Foucault’s multifaceted analysis of power relations through sovereignty, disciplinarity, governmentality and ethics of the self provides a framework through which to examine tensions within this complexity of secondary schools’ disciplinary strategies as they reﬂect and produce various understandings of students and their relationship to the school. Through examining these strategies, I explore how forms of power relations interweave and how the resultant web is partly...
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