The State as process: "Governmentality" and policy text production in education

Year: 1994

Author: O'Brien, Peter

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper draws on the presenter's current doctoral work into the analysis of policy text production in recent federal initiatives in teacher education. It commences from a position, under debate in contemporary policy sociology at present, that a conceptualisation of the State is central to understanding the policy process. Given this centrality, the paper moves on to explore how recent theorising in social theory on the notion of "governmentality" may be useful in understanding policy making in the State. A Foucaultian concept, governmentality refers to the relationship between governmental programs, political rationalities and governmental technologies.

The task of this paper, then, is to outline this Foucaultian notion of governmentality, engage it in terms of the critical state theoretical perspective of the research being undertaken and evaluate its usefulness for understanding policy making in the State.