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Education development and institutional change at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg Campus in the 1980s and 1990s.

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The thesis utilises Michel Foucault's work on disciplinary power to study the changes which played themselves out in the area of educational activities and governance at the Pietermaritzburg centre of the University of Natal during the 1980s and 1990s. It examines the effects of these changes in relation to students, staff, and the institution, the 'academic subjects' of the title, raising questions about the implications of these for the future of the institution. The overall context of the changes was one of national transition from an apartheid to a democratic, nonracial dispensation; decreasing state funding for higher education; and international 'globalisation'. The primary vehicles for the changes were Education Development initiatives around access, teaching and learning, curriculum, and related issues, which brought 'disadvantaged' black students into the fold of an 'historically white' institution and facilitated their academic success; and a Vice Chancellor's Review and rationalisation and restructuring processes which brought about structural and governance changes. The study examines how these processes interacted with each other and with other forces (e.g. technological change); the discourses and resistances they generated; and how Education Development gave way to a new dominant discourse of 'Quality' , Its point of departure is genealogy, an analytic which reveals the mutually-generative, normative, subject-producing nexus between knowledge and modem disciplinary power, as illustrated by Foucault's historical studies of the prison and human discourse on sexuality. It demonstrates that Education Development, operating against resistance and established norms of autonomy, developed and employed sophisticated techniques and tactics of power-knowledge to supervise tighter norms in student and staff academic practices, Education Development's linkage with the Vice Chancellor's Review and other processes and the uneven incorporation of its truths into the everyday practices of the university's established 'regime of truth' produced a more general mechanism of institutional control which 'transformed' the university, partly in line with political demands but also, through an increased degree of government of its staff and students, as a more panoptical institution for efficiency, productivity and 'international competitiveness'. The study posits the need for further inquiry into whether the university's current 'regime of truth' is that for an 'ethical' institution producing 'ethical' subjects, that is, subjects capable in Foucault's terms, of inventing themselves through exercising 'the care for the self' as a practice of freedom.


Thesis (M.Ed.)-University of Natal, Durban, 2001.


Foucault, Michel., University of Natal--Administration., University of Natal--Students., University of Natal--Curricula., Theses--Education.