Disciplinary power matters: Rethinking governmentality and policy enactment studies in China

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10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Besides Foucault’s own focus on liberal contexts, the relatively limited application of his thoughts in illiberal countries may also result from the misunderstanding of power. The traditional juridico-discursive model interprets power as a possession wielded by one group over others, merely functioning as something forbidden. Thus, policy analysts risk falling into the trap of ‘naive optimism or pessimism’–by overemphasizing either the secondary adjustment or strict sovereign control. Returning to Foucault’s observation of the ‘sovereignty–discipline–government society’ triangle, this study examines how discipline establishes the linkage between sovereign will and self-government in both (neo)liberal and illiberal nations, aiming to: first, theoretically clarify how modern forms of power in different political systems overlap and co-operate with each other, thus justifying the expansion of Foucault’s ideas into illiberal contexts; second, demonstrate the interpenetration of agency and constraints through empirical exploration of Chinese transnational higher education policy enactment, and by so doing to avoid the centralization circle or policy experimentation hypothesis framework; third, highlight the importance of discipline in realizing the ‘tricky combination’ of totalization and individualization through producing capable subjects for authoritarian objective in modern societies. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-431
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Volume38
Issue number3
Early online dateDec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Citation

Han, X. (2023). Disciplinary power matters: Rethinking governmentality and policy enactment studies in China. Journal of Education Policy, 38(3), 408-431. https://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2021.2014570

Keywords

  • Discipline
  • Foucault
  • Power
  • Governmentality
  • Policy enactment

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