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Present vs Absent Presence: Visualizing Uncounted Occurrences In Education
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Culture Studies, Religious Studies and Educational Sciences.
Uppsala Universitet, Instutionen för didaktik.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1871-4488
2010 (English)In: The Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA), 2010Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Globally, the new common vocabulary of educational policies uses rhetoric from business which has redefined education as serving the labor market, bringing concepts as accountability, efficiency and performance standards (Lipman, 2009) For instance in Sweden, the educational system has responded with an increased focus on National tests and other control features (Liedman, 2009; Pettersson, 2008). Various educational reforms have been launched with the purpose of strengthening Sweden’s competition and economic growth (Sundberg, 2005). The underlying logic of these societal and educational developments and the rhetoric that is used make certain features count while others are obscured (see e.g. Apple, 2009; Kumashiro, 2008). Such complexity reduction is a political product which is why one needs to ask “for whom and in whose interest” it is being reduced (Biesta, 2008). In an earlier work (Grannäs & Frelin, 2009) we addressed the political significance of the temporal dimension of education within the current educational climate which constitute a challenge for teachers and students, and directed critique towards the consequences of over-pre-determination of knowledge outcomes for teachers’ working conditions. We argued that in a climate of post-fordism structuring and language render some events obscured and sometimes impossible to address within the educational system. In another work (Frelin & Grannäs, 2010), we argued that the “view of education as exclusively aimed at pre-determined and predictable outcomes /.../ obliterates the possibilities for teachers and students to negotiate the content or other educational issues.” However, in our empirical study we found that despite the conditions, teachers and students worked to attain what we termed intersubjective spaces of negotiation which proved to be significant for education although impossible to plan or predict. They struggled in order to balance demands of the system with the demands that need to be met in order for the system to work, but were impossible to address within it (Frelin & Grannäs, 2010). Over the last 30 years the neo-liberal ideology production has been so pervasive that a massive reframing in society have taken place which have made the managerial discourse a major part of our commonsense (Apple, 2009). This development makes it hard, for teachers, to speak and ‘make sense’ using concepts outside the managerial discourse. Inspired by Apple’s term absent presence (Apple, 1999) we argue that events within the managerial discourse, which can and become allowed to occur within it, are to be termed present presences. That is, what counts can only be within the managerial discourse as present presence. The events that are outside of the managerial discourse or uncounted, but still need to be addressed are termed absent presences. By naming them absent presences we want to achieve two things; first, absent presences acknowledges their presence and significance in educational situations, and second, absent presences visualizes their invisibility within the managerial rhetoric of educational policy, and organizational structure of schools. Based on this research, we suggest that what teachers do in their everyday practices is to take responsibility for the uncounted voices and actions in order to make the counted work – that is absent presence as condition for the present presence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-7383OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-7383DiVA: diva2:345347
Conference
NERA-conference, Malmö, Sweden, March 11-13, 2010
Available from: 2010-08-24 Created: 2010-08-24 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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Language
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Output format
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