Thinking about the responsible parent: freedom and educating the child in Western Australia

Wayne McGowan

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This study is concerned with how educational legislation shapes and uses freedom for the purpose of governing the parent. The key question guiding the study was: How does the Act constitute the ‘parent’ as a subject position responsible for schooling the child? Central to the work is an examination of the School Education Act 1999 (the Act) using Foucault’s thinking on governmentality. This is prefaced by historical accounts that bring together freedom and childhood as contrived styles of conduct that provide the governmental logic behind the Act. The study reveals how the Act shapes and uses the truth of freedom/childhood to construct the responsible parent as a style of conduct pegged to a neo-liberal political rationality of government. It is this political rationality that provides the node or point of encounter between the technologies of power and the self within the Act which forms the ‘responsible’ identity of the parent as an active self-governing entrepreneur made more visible by the political construction of ‘others.’ This is a legal-political subjectivity centred on the truth of freedom/childhood and a neo-liberal rationality of government that believes that any change to our current ethical way of being in relation to educating the child would ruin the very freedoms upon which our civilised lifestyle depends. In essence, the Act relies on the production of ‘others’ as the poor, Aboriginal and radical who must be regulated and made autonomous to constitute the ‘parent’ as an active consumer whose autonomous educational choices are an expression of responsibility in relation to schooling the child
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004


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