Interpreting Foucault: an evaluation of a Foucauldian critique of education
The potential strengths and weaknesses of a Foucauldian critique of education are discussed and evaluated. The article focuses specifically on the value of Foucault’s work for critiquing social and political ideologies prevalent in education, which is understood as a societal institution, and hence, as a modern regime of institutional power. In terms of strengths, the ability to raise issues of knowledge, power and contestation that are traditionally ignored in educational theory is addressed. In terms of weaknesses, Foucault’s problematic use and understanding of power and his apparent rejection of objective truth are investigated. The critique develops at the hand of influential, but competing, interpretations of Foucault’s contribution to the field of education in particular, and philosophy in general. It is argued that these influential readings of Foucault gain traction within specific discourses (such as education), and should thus be subjected to critical scrutiny.
Keywords: critique; education; Foucault; institution; power; truth