Conceptualising the compulsory education policy apparatus: producing and reproducing risky subjectivities
Journal of Education Policy
Taylor & Francis Group
School of Arts and Humanities
A governmental research inquiry was conducted into the policy to raise the school leaving age in Western Australia. The study aimed to problematise the policy so as to identify and examine the rationale and intervening practices with young people who were deemed to be at-risk of not meeting the new school leaving age requirements. Drawing on interviews and policy documents, this paper elaborates the concept of ‘apparatus’ as defined by Foucault and Agamben to identify the contexts and consequences of the way the policy produced and reproduced an ‘at-risk’ youth subjectivity. The paper shows how a binary between school completers and non-completers emanated from a context about a crisis in falling retention and early school leaving, myopically focusing on NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) subjectivities as both the cause and solution to the policy objectives. Consequently, the policy apparatus is productive of the very circumstances it seeks to address, and therefore it recursively cycles around a problem it does not solve.