A Foucauldian perspective on student experiences of family discourses in post-primary schools

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Desmond, Ann-Marie
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This work involves researching normative family discourses which are mediated through post-primary settings. The traditional family, consisting of father, mother and children all living together in one house (nuclear) is no longer reflective of the home situation of many Irish students [Lunn, P., and T. Fahey. 2012. Households and Family Structures in Ireland: A Detailed Statistical Analysis of Census 2006. Dublin: ESRI]. My study problematises micro practices involving families as reported by students in three post-primary schools, to report how family differences are managed and (mis)recognised from their lens. The influence of the dominant educational discourses (contextual and textual), are also considered. A framework using Foucauldian post-structural critical analysis traces family profiling through normalising discourses such as notes home which presume two parents together. Teacher assumptions about heterosexual two-parent families make it difficult for students to be open about a family set-up that is constructed as ‘different’ to the rest of the schools. My findings will be of interest to educational research and policy-makers because they highlight how changing demographics such as family compositions are mis-conceptualised in schools, leading to issues of injustice such as bullying and isolation for the students involved.
Family diversity , Normalisation , Pastoral power , Family discrimination , Foucault
Ann-Marie Desmond (2016) A Foucauldian perspective on student experiences of family discourses in post-primary schools, Irish Educational Studies, 35:4, 319-336, DOI: 10.1080/03323315.2016.1243068
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© 2016, Educational Studies Association of Ireland. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Irish Educational Studies on 20 Oct. 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/03323315.2016.1243068