Eva Bendix Petersen, Zsuzsa Millei

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In the seminal book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1977) French philosopher Michel Foucault described how the psy-disciplines—his collective term for psychiatry, psychology, psycho-analysis and other psycho-therapies—became entangled in new forms of government. 18th and 19th century liberal Europe was faced with the challenge of governing the population to ensure morality and order, but in ways that also guaranteed the freedom of individuals and a free economy. Expertise, including the social sciences, psy-disciplines, economics, statistics etc., came to provide solutions for this challenge by producing scientific knowledges about persons, society and the economy (Foucault 1988). The emerging psy-disciplines helped to make sense of individuals ‘as speaking, living, working individuals’ and also provided avenues for these individuals to understand, form and regulate themselves according to these scientific discourses (Foucault 1994: 281). In this way, expertise enabled a shift from coercive control into ‘the conduct of conduct’ and practices of self-formation. Psy-disciplines in this way are ‘technologies of the social’ (Fendler 2001), rather than simply scientific areas amassed following simple rules and propositions internal to scientific discovery. As Michel Foucault indicated, and, as has since been elaborated by Nikolas Rose (1998, 1999), among others, educational institutions and actors have been, and continue to be, central to the continuation of the psy-disciplines, their knowledges and practice, which often emerge and operate as natural, inevitable, ethical and liberating.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterrupting the Psy-Disciplines in Education
EditorsEva Bendix Petersen, Zsuzsa Millei
Number of pages12
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-51304-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-51305-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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