Laclauian Reflections on the Politics of Education and Finnish Education Policy

This is Tuomas Tervasmäki’s PhD research project. The purpose of the research is twofold. The first objective is to analyse the political and ideological dimensions of educational institutions, settings and practices. The second objective focus on methodological implementation of Political discourse theory in the field of educational research. The discourse theory (or ideology and discourse analysis, IDA) is a theoretical framework and methodology based on the political philosophy of Ernesto Laclau (1935–2014) and his successors. The aim is to examine what kind of new explanatory perspectives the theory can offer in understanding educational phenomena and to investigate possible problems and limitations which may arise through such implementation.

The research will be conducted through four substudies which fall into two thematic categories: 1. The logics of university work and higher education policy. 2. Inclusion and exclusion in educational practices. Substudies have been chosen in a way that each case study applies a different methodological approach of Laclauian discourse theory and thus provides a new perspective into the analysis of educational policy studies. 

The analysis of rhetorics and articulation of education policies emphasise normative and socially constructed character of educational practices. Substudies of this dissertation

a) bring forth political and value-based decisions made in different sectors of education policy
b) destabilize and contest hegemonic educational configurations by examining their ideological foundations
c) open up current policy discourse for alternative educational imaginaries.

This sort of critical research enhances reflective democratic discussion regarding ideologies, power relations and objectives of educational policy.

Publications related to this project:

Tervasmäki, T. (2022). Osallistavasta kasvatuksesta ulossulkemiseen? Diskurssiteoreettinen luenta Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteiden 2014 inkluusiokäsityksestä. Oppimisen ja oppimisvaikeuksien erityislehti NMI-bulletin 32(E), 11–32. Vammaistutkimuksen teemanumero

Tiina Nikkola & Tuomas Tervasmäki (2020): Experiences of arbitrary management among Finnish academics in an era of academic capitalism, Journal of Education Policy

Tervasmäki, T. & Tomperi, T. (2018). Koulutuspolitiikan arvovalinnat ja suunta satavuotiaassa Suomessa. niin & näin 2/2018, 164–200.

Tervasmäki, T. 2018. Tasa-arvoa yksilö vai yhteisö edellä? Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteiden 2014 tasa-arvokäsitys. Teoksessa Risto Rinne, Nina Haltia, Sonia Lempinen & Tuuli Kaunisto (toim.) Eriarvoistuva maailma – tasa-arvoistava koulu? Kasvatusalan tutkimuksia. Jyväskylä: Suomen Kasvatustieteellinen Seura, 123–144. 

Tervasmäki, T., Okkolin, M-A, Kauppinen, I. 2018. Changing the heart and soul? Inequalities in Finland’s current pursuit of a narrow education policy. Policy Futures in Education. Published online first.