University of Sussex
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Affective governmentality, ordo-liberalism, and the affirmative action policy in higher education

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posted on 2023-06-09, 17:19 authored by Daniel Leyton
This thesis drew on a methodological and analytical strategy bringing together Foucauldian (1980; 1984; 2001a; 2001b; 2007; 2008) onto-epistemological underpinnings and critical readings of the affective turn to explore the affirmative action policy in higher education in Chile. By critically deploying the frameworks of governmentality (Foucault, 2007; 2008) and affect (Massumi, 2002; Mazzarella, 2009), I explore the affirmative action policy as a dispositif configured by affective, discursive, and power relations that constitute the affirmative action policy and its regime of subjectification. This regime was primarily conceived as a field of forces that ambush and appeal to working-class subjects by establishing normative figures of neoliberal subjectivities that promise them broader possibilities of being recognised and desired by, in this case, respected historical formations such as universities and higher education. The empirical analysis is based on the two main affirmative action programmes in Chile: The Induction Access Programmes (IAPs) and the Support and Effective Access into Higher Education Programme (PACE by its acronyms in Spanish). The empirical material was constructed through three main methods: An extensive archival exploration; interviews with 14 policymakers and 18 working-class students participating in these programmes; and ethnographic participation in a conference devoted to these programmes. These tactics comprised the production of a large body of texts in the form of policy documents, research reports, books and articles, success guides, interviews’ transcriptions, ethnographic notes, syllabuses describing the activities and foundations of these programmes, theories backing these programmes, promotional videos, radio broadcasts, and TV news. This thesis problematises the field of affirmative action policy research by identifying the links between the knowledge produced, policy making demands and frameworks, and the affective atmosphere associated to struggles over the development of these policies, as central forces that constitute this field. By tracing some genealogical instances of the development of these policies in the USA and in Chile, it also captures the contradictory affective forces driving their formation as dispositifs of governmentality. From these brief genealogical explorations, a methodological theorisation was carried out in order to conceive a notion of affective governmentality, and how affects and knowledges are intertwined in the practices of government and subjectification. These methodological developments were taken up in order to understand the production of the affirmative action policy as a dispositif amidst dominant neoliberal governmentalities and specific policy technologies that were performing this policy. In order to understand how the dominant rationalities shape the formation of this policy, an analysis of the ordo-liberal governmentality is carried out, in articulation with the regime of subjectification it deploys towards the working-class subject. The notion of the diagram (Deleuze 2006; 2014) was also deployed to undertake a genealogy of the affirmative action policy, taking into account the interrelations between the construction of different figures of the subject, the university, and social science knowledge under the influence of distinct governmentalities -socialist, Chicago neoliberalism, and ordo-liberalism. Inclusion was identified as a contradictory affective and discursive formation unfolding the affirmative action policy dispositif. The “technologies of inclusion” analysed within this discourse were: ontological coaching, sociology of meritocracy and social mobility, and psychology of motivations. One of the main conclusions of this thesis was that to analyse education policies as dispositifs, that are formed within dominant political rationalities and technologies allows us to capture, at the same time, their multiple and contradictory affective and discursive elements, and the capacity of governmentalities to dispose and organise these multifarious elements as instruments of government oriented to intervene in the tendencies perceived as risky for the social order desired by the dominant rationalities.


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