cultivating oppositional debt ethics and consciousness: philosophy for/with children as counter-conduct in the neoliberal debt economy

jason thomas wozniak


In this article, I examine what the ethical and political implications of conceptualizing and practicing philosophy for/with children (P4wC) in the neoliberal debt economy are. Though P4wC cannot alone bring about any significant transformation of debt political-economic realities, it can play an important role in cultivating oppositional debt ethics and consciousness. The first half of this article situates P4wC within the current global debt economy. Here, I summarize the analyses made by critical theorists of the ways that debt impacts public institutions (including schools), and shapes individual subjectivity. The second half of this article builds on Michel Foucault’s conceptualization of “counter-conduct.” For Foucault, counter-conduct is an ethical/political act of resistance against governmentality, one that makes possible alternative social relations and ways of being in the world. I argue in this section that P4wC should be conceptualized, and practiced, as form of counter-conduct that challenges power in the debt economy. Both the form of P4wC pedagogy, and the content that can be taken up in a collective manner in communities of inquiry, make P4wC a potential site for debt counter-conduct practices. Thought of as counter-conduct, P4wC is an educational practice with liberatory promise. I conclude this piece with brief ruminations on practicing P4wC in the time of COVID, and during the uprisings around the world against racial capitalism. It is suggested here that P4wC not only be practiced within formal education settings, but also in the social movements that are fighting to bring into being a world more just for all of us.


En este artículo, examino cuáles son las implicaciones éticas y políticas de conceptualizar y practicar la filosofía para / con niños (P4wC) en la economía de la deuda neoliberal. Aunque P4wC no puede provocar por sí solo ninguna transformación significativa de las realidades político-económicas de la deuda, puede desempeñar un papel importante en el cultivo de una ética y una conciencia de la deuda opuestas. La primera mitad de este artículo sitúa a P4wC dentro de la economía de deuda global actual. Aquí, resumo los análisis realizados por teóricos críticos sobre las formas en que la deuda afecta a las instituciones públicas (incluidas las escuelas) y configura la subjetividad individual. La segunda mitad de este artículo se basa en la conceptualización de la "contra-conducta" de Michel Foucault. Para Foucault, la contra-conducta es un acto ético / político de resistencia contra la gobernamentalidad, que posibilita relaciones sociales y formas de estar en el mundo alternativas. Sostengo en esta sección que P4wC debe conceptualizarse y practicarse como una forma de contra-conducta que desafía el poder en la economía de la deuda. Tanto la forma pedagógica de P4wC, como su contenido adoptados de manera colectiva en las comunidades de investigación, hacen de P4wC un sitio potencial para las prácticas de contra-conducta de la deuda. Pensada como una contra-conducta, P4wC es una práctica educativa con promesa liberadora. Concluyo este artículo con breves reflexiones sobre la práctica de P4wC en la época de COVID y de los alzamientos en todo el mundo contra el capitalismo racial. Aquí se sugiere que P4wC no solo se practique dentro de los entornos de educación formal, sino también en los movimientos sociales que luchan por crear un mundo más justo para todos nosotros.


Key Words: Debt (Deuda), Philosophy for/with Children (P4wC) (Filosofía para / con niños), Counter-Conduct (contra-conducta)


Debt; Philosophy for/with children; counter-conduct

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