2022 Abstracts Stage 2

“Genealogy of Power: Tracing the Penal System within Educational Institutions”

Louis Giffard-Moore, 2022, Stage 2

This essay explores the genealogy of the penal system as a paradigm for understanding power dynamics within educational institutions, drawing from the philosophical works of Michel Foucault and Friedrich Nietzsche. Building on Foucault’s theoretical framework, this investigation delves into the structures of power and discipline, including hierarchical observation and normalising judgement, and their pervasive presence within contemporary educational environments. Nietzsche’s insights from ‘On the Uses and Abuses of History for Life’ and ‘On the Genealogy of Morality’ offer an additional lens to critically appraise the formation and enforcement of norms in these settings. Cinematic representations of these concepts, primarily found in Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If….’ and Peter Weir’s ‘Dead Poets Society’, are analysed to provide tangible illustrations of Foucault’s and Nietzsche’s theories within institutionalised education. The essay demonstrates how, akin to the penal system, educational institutions exercise power, regulate behaviour, and manage deviation, resulting in a profound influence on individual formation and societal coherence. By juxtaposing the penal and educational systems, this analysis highlights the urgency of addressing the inherent power imbalances and restrictive norms within educational institutions to promote more equitable learning environments.

Leave a Reply