The politics of reflection

The politics of reflection


Chris Holligan


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The purpose of this critical research (Harvey, 2000) is to explore beneath the politics of surface appearance and attempt to provoke debate about the contingent nature of professionalism (Scottish Government, 2002), drawing upon social rather than psychological theory. My argument is that engagement with learners in post-modernity (Lyotard, 1984) necessitates the cultivation and use of 'soft power'. The psychology of selfhood in the modernist paradigm of professionalism (Schon, 1983; 1987) is limited in terms of the power its account gives to the professional about the orientation and nature of critical reflexivity. Its roots in individualistic psychology have the effect of reflections being inwardly directed onto the private self. Instead teachers' self-identities and criticalities should engage to a greater extent with the politics of communities and be adaptable to the reflexive inclination of pupils who, like teachers, are subjected to intensified demands arising from our shared post-industrial condition (Touraine, 1974; Giddens, 2005). The paradigm of subjectivity presupposed within the orthodox and essentialist psychology of received professionalism may impoverish a teacher's reflexivity and mental wellbeing. In the absence of sociology of the self, bereft of soft power, the teacher's capacity to cope with disciplinary challenge and gain the respect of pupils may be reduced, as may their agency to improve society. Reference is made to Derrida's (1994) concept of haunting to illuminate competing hegemonies constructing the self. 



The contribution of this paper lies in its deconstruction of ideas associated with professionalism and associated sociological views regarding the self. Relationships between professional effectiveness, soft power and the nature of selfhood are explored. Where a teacher belongs, within the intellectual contexts presented, may have an influence upon their relations with students and their construct of professionalism.The child's perspective is a discourse which forms a core part of government policy rhetoric (Alderson, 2004; Masson, 2004). Children as learners are not merely cognitive entities, their selfhood 'embodies' society which influences how they engage with teachers and the conditions of their schooling. The post-modern child, one who is highly aware of contrasting subjectivities and systems of values as a result of significant access to vast reservoirs of knowledge, may be more comfortable with teachers whose behaviour and dispositions conform to their perceptions of a 'cool identity', one which negotiates and compromises. Teachers who experience difficulty with engaging with a sociologically nuanced childhood may struggle to win the child's recognition and respect. The manner in which teachers accommodate to the more fluid and challenging contexts of contemporary schooling may shape their subjectivization as professionals (Foucault, 1973 Gorringe and Rafanell, 2007), where they 'sit' in terms of the different models of the self. Teachers who are receptive to the distinctive nature of the post-traditional self may be more able to achieve a richer appreciation of the role that teachers living in 21st century societies could increasingly move towards adopting.

The self and epistemology

An under-theorised self is arguably a characteristic of the orthodox tradition of professionalism, where discourses of 'restricted' and 'extended' are presented, but not problematized (Hoyle, 1974). This normalised account of professionalism has conceptual implications which may influence beliefs about effective pedagogy and professional relationships, teacher-student and teacher-teacher. Models of the self inevitably impinge upon relationality with colleagues and students, but this nexus of issues rarely surfaces in the literature aimed at the profession by government. That such models may carry these professional consequences is arguably a function of their epistemological location in bodies of social science knowledge and how the profession has emerged historically in relation to a preferred corpus of knowledge. Rather than being disposed to complexity and uncertainty, part of post-modernist relativity, contemporary ideas of professionalism appear to favour knowledge sources offering relative certainty and closure. Such sources are also more likely to be associated with the optimism inherent in meta-narratives (Rose, 1999a; 1999b). The historically informed association of professionalism with this type of epistemological commitment may reflect the social origins of teaching as a profession: its privileged status as a middle-class profession. Attachment to the orthodox view is likely to inform a teacher's self-conception: what being professional entails in terms of conduct and reflexivity.  Preference for an orthodox perspective may tightly govern the nature and content of a teacher's intellectual motivations to engage in critical self-reflection (Atkinson, 2007; Holdsworth et al., 2007). If the teacher's professional self-image or identity is inherently 'restricted' by dint of its epistemological and political ancestry this may have an impact upon the conduct of professional criticality. Governmental policy values are a further strand of influence upon professionalism (Humes, 2001). Being part of a similar social formation as school teachers government policy-makers reinforce and perpetuate a naive orthodoxy.

Examples in the literature of this naive orthodoxy are to be found in some academic analyses describing the 'ills' of education (Goodson, 2003; Hargreaves, 2003 and Sachs, 2003). This literature does not, however, probe into its own ontological presuppositions: fundamental sociologically contestations and concepts of selfhood are neglected. As a result the discourse of enlightenment which it inevitably assumes is not debated thus it seems to offer no deep challenge to the foundations of official doctrines of professionalism (HMIE, 2007; Scottish Government, 2002). The latter are not revealed as merely contingent approaches, things reflecting particular cultures and their political values. An illustrative case of the 'naive orthodoxy' is found in Hargreaves (2003). He argues the teaching profession is being damaged by over-regulation, poor leadership and public vilification. These factors are aggravated by excessive expectations about students' national examination performance. Bassey (2007) seeks to place the blame for these ills raised by Hargreaves on "the blinkered vision of government", and claims that a cult of bureaucratic performativity is responsible:

"A major factor is that schooling is construed by government as primarily the acquiring of knowledge and skills for economic ends...League tables and Ofsted inspections keep noses to the assessment grindstone." (p. 33)

Others have described this theme in terms of a 'knowledge economy' (Kenway et al., 2006). Many teachers regard their role as nurturing young people's all-round development towards achieving worthwhile futures as responsible citizens. This traditionalist approach to education is thought to sit uncomfortably with the demands of an 'audit state' (Power, 1997) which Bassey believes may negatively reconstruct professionalism, causing damage to collegiality and school culture. Hargreaves (2003) suggests educational policy-makers should acknowledge to a greater extent the challenging nature of the contemporary post-Fordist economic context. To help achieve this intellectual re-orientation in policy vision he proposes that the teaching profession ought to pursue justifications for its professional actions using evidence generated by research undertaken by social scientists. This controversial panacea exemplifies a general project driven by ideologies designed to impose technical control over the entire public sector. An Orwellian-like label, 'modernization', is used to refer to this project of putative reform of the public sector. The objectivity which this type of analysis seeks to annex to itself for legitimating professionalism is questionable. For this reason it ought to be deconstructed and debated beyond the confines of academia. Basing educational decision-making upon evidence from formal empirical research gives the impression that enduring and universal truths are established. The corollary of this is that professionalism appears to be based upon axioms which seem to have the status of indubitable rather than contingent truths. Evidence which, at first blush, appears to 'deliver' this politically favoured, apparently neutral objectivity is instead caught up with power and the state (Merquior, 1991, Ball, 2003). Goodson (2003) claims these policy trends are increasingly defended and legitimated by appeals to the authority of science. Underlying this constrained, and arguably impoverished, form of professionalism lies technocratic governmentality (Rabinow, 1991): power which bases its legitimation upon appeals to research evidence. However, this form of scientific hegemony falls foul of neglecting the contested and contingent nature of scientific truth (Sardar, 2000) and competing educational philosophies (Carr, 2004). Hargreaves (2003) proposes the metaphor of the karaoke singer to characterise the modern 'vulnerable teacher' whose performance is dependent upon other people's lyrics, namely neo-liberalists who advance the ideology of an evidence-based performative professionalism. Goodson (2003) pours scorn on such micro-management techniques, arguing that the profession will not benefit from dependency upon externally driven sources of scientific evidence, and feels this project of modernisation is anathema to building social capital (Khodyakov, 2007). Preference towards a historically given model of the professional self is found on the websites of professional bodies. The state's General Teaching Councils favour accounts of professionalism which are prescriptive in the sense that the boundaries within which professionalism is defined are narrow. Confining reflection to the value-laden politics of these boundaries may foster cultures of technocratic compliance which do not challenge the basis of state power. By comparison Hargreaves' (2003) analysis offers a post-traditional model of teachers as professionals in his vision of the knowledge society. Such teachers are defined as transformative professional leaders, activists in a trust, not a positivist monitored professionalism (Sachs, 2003):

"Teaching in the knowledge economy requires levels of skills and judgement far beyond those involved in merely delivering someone else's prescribed curriculum and standardized test scores. It requires qualities of person and intellectual maturity that take years to develop. Teaching in the knowledge society cannot be a refuge for second-choice careers, a low-level system of technical delivery, or, as some policy-makers are saying, an exhausting job that should be handled mainly by the young and energetic before they move onto something else. Teaching in the knowledge society, rather, should be a career of first choice, a job for grown-up intellectuals, a long-term commitment, a social mission, a job for life. Anything less leaves sights far below the knowledge society horizon – and teaching should never be about settling for anything less" (p. 51).

The critique of schooling by Sacks and Goodson resonates with the ideas developed in this article. An alternative to the official discourses of professionalism (Gale and Densmore, 2000) will now be explored with reference being made to alternative foundational characteristics which can be used to 'haunt' orthodox ideas of professionalism (Kenway et al., 2006).

Nye and soft power

Weber's charismatic leadership ideal type (Allen, 2004) captures an important component of soft power, exemplifying soft power 'in action'.  Soft power is a capacity for the exercise of forms of authority and is characterised by the exercise of personal qualities and resource provision. China's foreign aid to Nigeria is one example of the exercise by China of soft power (Taylor, 2006). This concept originates in international foreign policy and can be utilised elsewhere. The political ideology of liberal conservatism, and more recently neo-liberalism (Giddens, 1994), which the orthodox idea of the self fits comfortably alongside, may have been overtaken by globalisation effects on the individual members of nation states (Fukuyama, 1992). According to Nye (2004), a former United States assistant secretary of defence, America's military and political elite was failing to appreciate the "crucial importance of soft power in our reordered post-September 11 world" (p. ix). He claims that the USA was mistaken in its neglect of the efficacy of soft power and argues that debate within the Bush administration's Iraq policy should have centred on developing strategies for nurturing allies rather than killing enemies. Power takes many forms; soft power can inhere in persons and in organisational hierarchy, and is associated with forms compulsion and attraction; attractiveness may involve ideology, social values, and lifestyles. Actual places, including the semiotics of buildings can convey soft power as they 'sell' and symbolise life-style options. Hard power sometimes accompanies soft power, helping to ensure its efficacy a mode of political control and subtle domination. If others perceive a policy as being legitimate this enhances the probability of soft power contributing to the achievement of the policy goal. According to Nye (2004):

"when you can get others to admire your ideals and to want what you want, you do not have to spend as much on sticks and carrots to move them in your direction" (p. x).

Nye's argument indicates that by capitalising upon values such as democracy, human rights and personal freedom, a major military force can succeed through 'seduction' and avoid recourse to military might. The effective utilisation of soft power, however, requires analysis as social and political contexts vary in terms of the kinds of power resources required to reach outcomes.

In education the nature of the local community shapes the demands of the local school classroom, and teachers utilise different disciplinary strategies depending upon local context and prioritised outcomes (e.g. improved exam results, better behaviour). Neither teachers nor pupils are gifted with unlimited choice; autonomy in the use of soft power (Osborne, 2004) is calibrated by hard power (e.g. statutory frameworks, official professional norms) which shapes legal and ethical parameters of action. Nevertheless significant space exists to negotiate outcomes and processes in classrooms; the choice of soft power informs the effectiveness of the engagement with this contested space. An effective education is multifaceted, what constitutes success is contestable; discipline (hard power, punitive sanctions e.g. school exclusion) is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for winning the peace in the classroom. The putative crisis of discipline and order afflicting schools, and authorities more generally, may be conjectured as being caused by a demise of professional soft power; as the post-traditional order lacks deference to tradition (Giddens, 2005) then institutions like schools inevitably struggle to succeed to secure order. Soft power is only potentially available to the teaching profession; it must first be acquired and this in itself may be a struggle.

Trust is part of the meaning of soft power; Offer (2006) describes the ways in which the problematization of trust has effectively interfered with soft power. Soft power and social capital are inter-related. Offer (2006) argues 'social capital' is dissipating:

"…interpersonal trust is in decline, subjective well-being is stagnant, and most social institutions…are held in lower repute" (p. 2).

Social capital comprises the resources acquired from relationships with others; Coleman (1988) demonstrated that pupil performance improves where positive ties between parents, teachers and neighbours exist. Field (2003) generalises this finding, claiming it endorses the importance of social and cultural dimensions to educational outcomes. Trust, as a feature of realised social capital is essential for 'seduction'; not being perceived as attractive reduces soft power. The semantics of soft power, legitimacy and credibility inter-connect.

Teachers perceived as credible may find pupils are more prone to treat them as 'generalised others' and identify with the professional norms they are governed by. We know that teachers who are perceived by pupils as effective disciplinarians rely particularly upon soft power (Munn et al.,1990). However, if there are ideological mismatches between the communities of pupils and teachers, the soft power of the teacher as an authority source is likely to be reduced (Kuper, 2000). Soft power accumulated by a teacher in any particular school may be weakened when that teacher transfers to a school in a culturally different community. It takes effort to 'grow' soft power. Our constructs of soft power, as implied earlier, could be stagnating in professional cultures whose resonance with the young and the contemporary world are tenuous. How ought teachers to construct relationships with children as pupils, and more generally engage as professionals in the world represented in terms of the post-traditional thesis? A re-visiting of the received family of concepts embracing professional self, power, politics and subjectivity, from a variety of different perspectives enhances the depth of our understandings about schooling and education. Are there distinctive professional relationships, which follow from a particular notion of selfhood, ones from which teachers might 'select', or are there only a finite number of forms of appropriate relationships available to teachers on which to legitimate their practice as professional and achieve authenticity? The following sections highlight different theorisations about the self and professionalism.

The modernist, liberal-humanist self

According to Burkitt (1998) the idea of a core, unchanging and universal self, namely essentialism, can be explained by reference to politics and power operating within historical periods. The modern construct of self as monad arose, Elias (1978) argues, during the period of aristocratic rule in the 14-15th centuries in Europe. Individuality was constructed through an internalisation of  "civilizational self-controls" (p. 257). The overlapping Cartesian and Kantian subjectivities represent this foundational, humanist subject; this solitary self of modernity constituted the basis for knowledge generation and objective truth. Usher and Edwards (1996) comment:

"The very rationale of the educational process and the role of the educator is founded upon modernity's self-motivated, self-directing, rational subject, capable of exercising individual agency" (p. 2).

The classical social theorists, Marx, Simmel, Weber and Durkheim (Craib, 1997) challenged this philosophical idea of selfhood, arguing instead, in the case of Marx, that the capitalist division of labour manufactured conditions for alienation; the concept of identity became 'private', not derived from socio-political processes. The resulting subjectivism was understood to be natural, a reflection of the human condition, not contingent upon societal structures of power. Individuals themselves believe their ideas were freely chosen; instead ideology, as Althusser (1971) argued, conditioned and manufactured identity.  Interpellation with the socio-political realm shaped subjectivity which we falsely believed we had freely chosen. This paradigm of the self continues to be reflected in official establishment discourses of academia (Schon, 1983; Stenhouse, 1975) and governmental organisations. The General Teaching Council (GTC) for England's Teacher Learning Academy acknowledges Schon's ideas as a foundational source of professionalism (see, a position similar to the Scottish GTC, despite the fact that differences exist concerning the professionalization of teachers in these countries (Menter et al., 2004). The political context which Schon's reflective practitioner informs and legitimates is arguably the neo-liberal establishment. A containment of reflexivity within the discourse of neo-liberalism limits and colours the nature of teacher autonomy, causing it to conform to particular norms and therefore to self-censor 'deviance', it may even result in reflections congruent with corporate structures as May (2007) reports in relation to the re-engineering of clinical practice in the NHS. Jones and Moore (1993) argue that competency discourses for initial teacher education and continuing professional development (CPD) are impoverished as they reframe education towards control and governance. Teachers may continue to reflect, but in tightly prescribed, 'relevant', ways decided upon by others, but find this reflection, as implied by Jones and Moore (1993), being pushed into private time and space. Barnett (1994) and Whitty (2002) argue a resulting instrumentalism transforms the ideological space available to individuals who are compelled to defer to corporate ideology (Codd, 1996; Whitty et al., 1998). Schon (1987), as a foundational and legitimating author advocating "an epistemology of practice based on the idea of reflection-in-action", presents us with naïve theorizing since it does not go outside the security of the modernity's liberal-humanist paradigm (Usher and Edwards, 1996); here individual agency resolves "problematic situations" through a process of "naming and framing" which he dubs a "form of world making" (p. 4). While, therefore, Schon rejects professional knowledge associated with "technical rationality", where practitioners become "instrumental problem-solvers who use technical means" (p. 3), he remains committed to the orthodox legitimation of professional authority founded upon the theory that authenticity of access to truth is achieved by the self's cognitive activity. Schon (1987) claims "our perceptions…and beliefs are rooted in worlds of our own making that we come to accept as reality" (p. 36). New Right ideologies create only the rhetoric of devolution of power, not the substance (Smyth, 1992). Instead of challenging both the soft and the hard power of the state the modernist subjectivity turns back upon itself, becoming an interior form of re-modelling. Smyth explains:

"My view is that reflective teaching is entering a phase…where it has become co-opted and institutionalised… Nobody is blaming the personalities or the individuals involved because the problem goes to the heart of the nature of the social, political, economic, and educational structures within which teachers work". (pp. 275-6).

The state is exploiting its hard power to re-fashion the profession's soft power, preventing projects that may politicize pedagogy, forge collectivist alliances and alternative thinking. The next section of the paper explores Foucault's (1967, 1973) deconstruction of the modernist discourse of the self and the associated power and politics. In addition an analysis of the politics of soft and hard power through the Foucauldian lens has the potential to contribute to a deeper understanding of Nye's ideas.

Foucault: self and subjectivity

Foucault is interested in the 'how' of power (Ranson, 1997); schools are 'laboratories' of 'observation' (Smart, 1995). Rose (1999) in his Foucauldian treatise argues in the 21st century "conventional ways of analysing politics and power seem obsolescent" (p.1); previous models of power "…were structured by the image of the individual, autonomous and self-possessed political subject of right, will and agency" (p. 1). The reflective practitioner's cognitions belong with this previous model and involve "techniques of the self", self-subjugation, where moral self-government is induced through processes of subjectivization. Subjectivization entails a process of becoming. Identities arise from it as do associated subjectivities. Schools are arguably regimes for creating order which leads to the construction of individuation in terms of specific moral protocols. The latter gives rise to the production of understandings through which the self helps to make sense of itself as an agent. Norms expressed in the literature of the teaching profession, for instance, the Scottish Executive's Standard for Headship requirements, or the Chartered Teacher programme foster orthodox modes of subjectivity in members (Scottish Executive, 2002: Scottish Executive Education Department, 2001, 2005), modes which are unlikely to produce selves which venture too far into questioning power and its legitimacy.

Disciplinary power is invisible and ubiquitous inhering within discourse; it is not possessed by individuals, as in the classical model of power, nor is it localised. Instead it is like a grid embedded in and expressed through knowledge. It shapes the world it claims objectively and neutrally to describe. The self is fabricated through complex processes of domination which incarcerate according to Foucault; Foucault conceives society as a panopticon, a sophisticated prison utilising complex dossiers to categorise, and these classifications are productive of subjectivity (Dreyfus and Rabinow, 1982). The Schonian reflective practitioner through the "confessional practice" of self-evaluation and 'obligations of truth' achieves a self-imposed domination, according to this theory. This reflective practitioner is a construct, an objectification whose rationale is justified in broad Enlightenment values of welfare and progress. It represents "bio-technico-power" and "docile bodies" are the ultimate result. The practitioner working within the associated scientificities is a "worker of evidence" (Merquior, 1991, p. 40), one which Comte would label positivist.

In Scotland the General Teaching Council for Scotland's (GTCS) website reveals a commitment to empirical research as a key component of professionalism, a value which is also at the heart of the Scottish Chartered Teacher (Scottish Government, 2002). In neither of these policy documents is the concept of evidence and truth critiqued. Therefore the contested basis of the teacher as "worker of evidence" is unexplicated and it leaves open the degree to which a teacher's professionalism requires that it be controlled by externalities of proof. This knowledge worker may assent to a belief in the orthodox Schonian concept of reflection as sufficient for achieving significant and structurally significant progress in education by dint of their professional actions. However, there is no independent 'mirror' through which an observer, the teacher, can view reality, a lens independent of values and politics, as the received naïve realism of orthodox professionalism assumesbeyond the legitimating discourse of received tradition.

What further conclusions might we draw from Foucault's ideas about the liberal-humanist self? Teachers and students are both subjected to power-knowledge processes and structures. Nye's 'soft' and 'hard' power does not sit comfortably alongside the Foucauldian landscape of power; for him soft and hard power would refer to discourses which give the illusion of individual agency. A different, and for some potentially more liberating perspective upon the self and power is found in the post-traditional perspective (Giddens, 2005). His theorization of contemporary society does not harborthe interesting pessimism about the nature of society and individuality characteristic of Foucault. A major virtue, however, of Foucault's deterministic perspective on human agency lies in how it alerts us to the simple views we hold about truth and reality; as a corollary, that thesis helps illuminate the contested nature of the reflective practitioner concept, a concept located within regimes of power-knowledge which 'manufacture' allegiance to subjectivities of enlightenment, freedom and autonomy. Being cognizant of such subjectivities is a useful reflexive resource for the self of liberal humanism; it is potentially liberating since that understanding highlights presuppositions and enables challenge to prejudice concealed within orthodoxies (Holligan, 1999a; 199b).

Giddens: The Post-Traditional Self

Soft power in the environment Giddens calls a "runaway world", the post-traditional community, may utilize dialogue to facilitate individualization (Beck, 1992). For Giddens (2005) the self as the reflexive project creates opportunities for others to permeate its trajectories. A teacher's dialogue with pupils inevitably over time influences their self-concept. Giddens' label "runaway world" captures the demise of the hold of received traditions and authorities over pupils and the everyday, causing greater work for the self to reduce insecurity. Professionalism is part of a welfare state at an individual level, a social formation contributing to making secure environments for pupils to learn and develop within. Nurturing consensus with pupils about educational goals helps pupils' aspirations for individuation (Carr, 2004). The reflective practitioner's traditional status within post-traditional order of late modern societies is complex and entails a commitment to both their own reflexive project of the self and others.

Giddens' (1979, 1984) conceptualization of the post-traditional society supports a vision of a social landscape which is therefore applicable to understanding the sociology of classroom and school processes. Social capital and soft power are goods emerging from the labors of the reflexive project of the self. Enjoying school is a significant precursor in the soft power available to teachers to nourish a pupil's individuation attempts and this assumes that teachers are aware of pupils' lifestyle orientations in the later modern order.

Archer et al. (2007) comment that "practices of 'taste' and style-are played out within the educational field" and that "the young people seek to generate worth and value through their investments in style" (p. 219) the results of which may lead to different, but not contradictory outcomes, a heightened sense of self worth and social oppression.  UNICEF (2007) found few UK children constructed school positively; a finding which may exemplify impoverished teacher-pupil relationships. The self-concept in Giddens (2005) has the capacity to generate relationships, something which schools should perhaps acknowledge more:

"The self is not a passive entity, determined by external influences; in forging their self-identities …individuals contribute to and directly promote social influences that are global in their consequences and implications" (p. 2).

Within modernity "disembedding mechanisms" challenge the power of "the hold of specific locales" which becomes reconstituted in wider space-time processes. Modernity, Giddens dubs a "post-traditional order" (Giddens, 2005, p. 2-3), where authority takes multiple forms, tradition is a contested authority, competing for inclusion in the reflexive project of the self. The integrity of the self depends upon securing intimacy: in the "pure relationship" personal security is sought and mutual disclosure is a basis for trust in it. A pure relationship is defined as:

"…one in which external criteria has become dissolved: the relationship exists solely for whatever rewards that relationship as such can deliver…" (Giddens, 2005, p. 6).

Soft power is likely to be connected with wealth and status, and thus teachers may hold more of it, especially when pupils are educationally engaged (Archer et al., 2007). Power is immanent in the management of the pure relationship, being reflected, for example, in the ways teachers, through the management of mutual disclosure with student, develop trust. Teachers, as representatives of "abstract systems", such as examination structures, are, for Giddens, experts whom pupils may seek out to support the therapeutic process of creating a narrative of the self. Teachers, as experts, embody the traditional order under different conditions. Within the post-traditional community existential concerns are valued differently from previous historical eras: today distant places, traditions and life-style norms affect the character and meanings imputed to decisions involving them in present. The self's existential situation is mediated by reference to the global phenomenal world to such an extent that'the world' means different things, with authorities competing with each other for the power to influence pupils. Not only is appearance and demeanor constructed through what Giddens, following Foucault, calls "bodily regimes", but the dynamics of relationships undergo change. Giddens (2005) claims that the practical and discursive consciousness of agents means they understand the social forces shaping them and can challenge them. Foucault's agents possess transformative capacity. Giddens (1979) argues:

"…The use of power in interaction can be understood in terms of the facilities that participants bring to and mobilize as elements of the production of that interaction, thereby influencing its course" (p. 93).

His concept of "dialectic of control" (Giddens, 1984) captures the fact that soft power is also available as a resource to others. For example, Willis (1977) demonstrates how through sarcasm and humour pupils exercised control over classrooms, deploying oppositional stances against mainstream values. By understanding local politics and the culture of their community they opposed the hard power, globally configured, of the state. As pupils have agency in his social theory it follows that they may pursue loyalty to alternative traditions to legitimate action. Kasperson (2000) argues that "tradition becomes de-traditionalised" and that "…more options are created for each individual, but this implies that more decisions have to be made" (p. 97).


An individualistic middle-class socio-political positioning is arguably embedded with the conventional doctrine of the reflective practitioner. The cultural politics of such an entrapment may give rise to forms of thought control. Reflective practitioners, it might be conjectured, create and consume information through a particular lens, the West's capitalist knowledge economy (Kenway et al., 2006). This lens prescribes an inner knowledge economy of the mind whereby professional reflections are in principle geared towards a psychology of self-critique and potential blame. We call this form of trajectory the politics of reflection. Kenway et al.  use Derrida's notion of hauntology to critique any dominant hegemony. Derrida's analytic concept of the ghost is designed to hint at repressed and excluded otherness, connected with hegemonic positions. Orthodox perspectives about power and professionalism are shown to be contingent as a result of being subjected to the logic of hauntology which, applied to any doctrinaire position, subverts its covert essentialist claims. Kenway et al. (2006) write:

"For Derrida, the ghost rattles the very foundations of existence and problematizes an ontology based on presence…Derrida's notion of hauntology is built on a presence/present double gesture. The ghost confuses our understanding of existence as presence. The ghost is but it does not exist. As it is neither present nor absent, it places 'being as presence' in doubt…" (p. 4).

Derrida (1994) argues that "haunting belongs to the structure of every hegemony" (p. 34), an idea applicable to any genre of professionalism (Goldschmit, 2009). In this paper ghosts designate subversive discourses that orthodoxy is likely to define as otherness, which includes Foucauldian and the post-traditional accounts. These alternative forms of subjectivity have been banished to a spectral realm by the hard and soft power of the state apparatus. They now live a spectral existence and the political landscape they associate with is forgotten. Historic attachment to monolithic concepts of mainstream education no doubt contributes to the retention of an orthodox professionalism which secures a 'safe pair of hands' for government to utilize to achieve its policy goals without having to engage in controversies of a fundamental kind.  The continued existence on the margins of society of these intellectual ghosts contributes to unsettling the hegemonic status of Schon's professional self.

Keddie (2006) describes how an alienated pupil used the discourse of masculinity to give him power over the school authorities. Keddie argues that a way of resolving fractious relations between home and school can be achieved through ethical change, making "more equitable teacher-student relations" (p.183). Pupils routinely engineer their own brands of soft power to gain peer support and secure a self-enhancing narrative of the self. Mac an Ghaill's (1994) working-class 'macho lads' did not experience the soft power of the profession as seductive and instead the teachers resorted to hard power, as Connolly (2004) argued in his account of the dissonance between oppositional subjectivities; their self-enhancement was oppositional. Unlike Connolly (2004) and Keddie (2006) it is unconvincing to claim that pupils' subjectivities are chosen freely. The depth of their involvement with a particular culture is likely to mean certain discourses are central and more likely to manufacture their subjectivities. During initial teacher education and CPD it would appear worthwhile to recognize and explore a range of subjectivities found in the profession and school system as an avenue to probe whether they develop or threaten the social capital which then lubricates the interactions necessary for achieving educational processes. If teachers are to make effective use of soft power they must grasp what social and political 'games' are enacted through schooling. Giddens' post-traditional society is demanding not only for a pupil's reflexive project of the self, but also for the types of conduct we choose to categorize beneath the label of professionalism. Regimes of performativity (Ball, 2003) imposed from outside upon the profession are bound to undermine its capacity to develop social capital and reduce the teacher's will to explore alternative ideas of the professional self. An audit culture tightly manages where and how a professional is expected to be reflexive. If the possession and intelligent utilization of soft power is an integral part of being a productive professional educator in our post-traditional societies, as suggested in this paper, we might look further at its implications for teacher education. Schon's (1987) "Educating the Reflective Practitioner" sought to move thinking beyond the inertia of mere "technical rationality":

"…an epistemology of practice derived from positivist philosophy…it holds that practitioners are instrumental problem solvers who select technical means best suited to particular purposes" (p. 3).

Schon's view about the limitations of that account of professional practice as well as his own preference is based upon outdated knowledge. He also fails to supply us with original insights based upon social theory.

What implications might the current attempt to adumbrate professionalism have for initial teacher education and continuing professional development? The academic community arguably ought to devote greater recognition to Giddens' notion of the reflexive project of the self, a concept which is central to his theory of contemporary society. That project inevitably influences the "pure relationship" requiring that teachers and pupils build trust and its corollary in social capital. Effective disciplinary control of pupil behavior might then flow from the soft power invested in the teacher-pupil relationship. One might also seek to extend Schon's analysis of the competences teachers ought to acquire by acknowledging the core importance of "personality": student teachers, for example, who seek to find solace in rules to create order, might re-conceptualize the relationships they sustain with pupils and foster their soft power. Historical reliance upon psychological discourses of professionalism serves to perpetuate political hegemonies which at the micro-level give rise to a type of scientifically legitimated discourse of professional subjugation. Schon's (1987) descriptions of "reflection-in-action" are couched heavily in such a psycho-perceptual analysis where the individual practitioner as enquirer drifts subtly into a Cartesian introspective monologue of the self with the main focus on inner being, a process which isolates the reflection from the sociological landscape outlined earlier, but helpfully for the establishment introduces an ethics of self-blame. His fondness for psycho-analysis is symptomatic of an obsessive concern with this interior architecture of the self and its inevitable association with self-help, a landscape which Foucault classifies negatively. Finally, it can be argued that although the concept of globalization is explored in initial teacher education, rarely are attempts made to relate the macro with the micro level interactions, that is how the reflexive project of the self is caught-up with an awareness of discourses beyond the immediate, here and now community which necessarily feed into community identity and with it the pupils' self-identity. While it has become a part of orthodox wisdom to import systems of assessment, curriculum design and performance management from overseas and from the private sector into a relation of opposition to the so-called liberal educational establishment, it would be prudent to recognize that the expert systems which teachers rely upon might contribute to the creation of a self-defeating scenario. Namely, rather than facilitating the achievement of educational goals such systems, by neutering the teacher's ability to develop and use soft power, manufacture in the classroom an unduly disruptive complicated set of commitments for pupils. Education constructed in this way inevitably makes for greater social exclusion. The disturbing findings about the depth of unhappiness among children in the UK (UNICEF, 2007) should encourage us into giving greater prioritization to child welfare during schooling. This new emphasis may call for a different type of teacher and school system whose 'behavior' embraces the totality of Bronfenbrener's (1979) ecological systems theory rather than being focused mainly towards classroom and curricular pedagogy. Future critical research may wish to pursue the implications of the ideas researched in this paper for professional relationality between teachers and for the structure of schooling. 


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