the politicization of the educable child through aethereal power

franz kasper krönig


The paper argues that a prevalent conception of power in the educational sciences is detrimental to pedagogy both as a field of practice and as a discipline and inept as a scientific concept from an epistemological standpoint. The designation of this power concept as ‘aethereal’ can provide the education theoretical discourses with a means to analyze and criticize positions and arguments that have undermined the autonomy of education since the establishment of Foucauldian thinking in the educational sciences. First, this article argues that the pedagogical notion of the educable child depends on the concepts of individuality, plasticity, and autonomy within the framework of a negative ontology. Second, it problematizes the effects of the substitution of these concepts in the postmodern power-critical educational sciences for pedagogy in general and the child as its key concept in particular. The politicized child is conceived of as subjugated, passive, vulnerable, and what is crucial: as a thing-like, i.e. pedagogically ineducable but only powerfully moldable identity. Third, it analyses the philosophical basis of this shift towards the politicization of the child by introducing the concept of ‘aethereal power’. The article concludes with a sociological reflection on the societal dimension of this fundamental transformation of education and hints at the emerging post-critical pedagogy as a possible remedy.


power; critical pedagogy; subjectivation; politicization; autonomy

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