Critical reflection in service learning: the construction of the 'good citizen'
MetadataShow full item record
Service-learning, and its iterations, has gained popularity across many countries in the last few decades. It offers students the opportunity to have real world, often transformative, learning experiences as part of their academic curriculum. It also has the potential to benefit the communities with whom students engage. Michel Foucault’s notion of power as an omnipresent, productive force is useful for asking how our everyday service-learning practices might be otherwise, and how our taken for granted assumptions are worthy of scrutiny. This study used Foucault’s conceptual tools to examine service-learning as an apparatus for governmentality. His notion of pastoral power was used to problematize the critical reflection process in a service-learning course, by focusing on the micro-level interactions in the process. A poststructuralist approach was employed in this case-study design. A form of Foucauldian discourse analysis was used to examine the data at three different levels. The results revealed that complicated and contradictory subjects were constructed in the process, not necessarily conforming to the field’s claims of developing good citizens. The results also explored how a pastoral and an expert discourse were deployed in the construction of these subjects, and how these different discourses were used to both constitute and manage the contradictory subject positions. Lastly, the results described the strategies and tactics that were used in the interactions in the critical reflection sessions to construct those subjects and positions. The findings highlighted the need to be aware of our service-learning practices, and the ways these can (inadvertently) become forms of governmentality, towards the production of certain kinds of desired subjects.