Am I a Foucault fanboy? Engaging with poststructuralism in educational leadership: A response to Donmoyer

Year: 2016

Author: Niesche, Richard

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

What are the challenges and risks of using the work of a thinker such as Michel Foucault in educational leadership? For a field that is inherently conservative and narrow in its theoretical engagement, there is still a great a need for a variety of perspectives to help illuminate issues and develop new knowledges and approaches in both critiquing and also understanding educational leadership in new ways. However, this may come at a cost to the writer as invoking the name of Foucault can lead to marginalisation in the field due to stereotyping of such ‘critical’ ideas. In this paper, I respond to some critiques of Robert Donmoyer on a recent chapter I have written (Niesche, 2016) using some of Foucault’s ideas along with those of Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jacques Derrrida. I problematise the idea that one has to use Foucault in a particular way and that one who uses Foucault need take on a particular identity or subject formation. For instance, Stephen Ball has remarked that while using Foucault, he does not see himself as a Foucauldian (Ball, 2013). What is a Foucauldian? And why does this identity or non-identity matter? I will explore these issues as well as outline a program of research that provides a useful way to explore a range of issues for educational leadership and administration.