Terror/enjoyment: performativity, resistance and the teacher's psyche

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28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on Stephen Ball’s article,The teacher’s soul and the terrors ofperformativity, since it is here that he analyses the issue of how neoliberal educationpolicies shape teacher identities that I also wish to explore. I begin by providing asummary of the 2003 piece, noting how it locates teachers and their work in the midst ofpolicy, politics, and passion in contrast to dominant techno-rational discourses of teaching– embodied, for example, in discourses of professional teacher ‘standards’ or ‘competen-cies’ that reduce teaching to matters of technical efficiency. As part of this summary, andcomplementing Ball’s own use of Foucault, I use the four ‘axes’ of Foucault’s ethics toexplain how performativity has brought about changes in relation to (1) the domain, (2)the authority sources/mode of subjectivization, (3) the practices and (4) the telos of beinga teacher. The paper goes on to argue that Ball’s emphasis on ‘terror’ can usefully be sup-plemented by a Lacanian-inspired recognition of ‘enjoyment’ as an explanatory factor thathelp us understand the grip of neoliberalism’s ideology of performativity. The paper con-cludes by examining the economies of fantasy and enjoyment as they relate to the workof teachers, how these economies work to sustain the terrors of performativity, and howan ethics of the Real that emphasizes the critical and creative potential of sublimation,might form part of a repertoire of resistance
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-238
JournalLondon Review of Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


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