Forskning ved Københavns Universitet - Københavns Universitet


Ethos and Critique: a Contribution to Ethics in Research and Education.

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningfagfællebedømt

The aim of this paper is to discuss Michel Foucault’s concept of ethos and the possibilities and limitations of this position. In addition, I will argue that Foucault’s insistently critical stance and power/knowledge concept can be considered as an ethical stance different from both deontology and utilitarism. Hence, it could have an important impact on the practice of research and education and on the boundaries that are here drawn between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ students.

This will be done through examples culled from a qualitative research project on the application of project studies as a method at two Danish universities. Project studies in groups (a Danish version of PBL) have since the 1970’es been extensively applied as a teaching and learning method in Denmark from primary school to university teaching. Thus, the student’s ability to work in groups is generally taken for granted. Never the less, many students project groups experience severe difficulties that affect the quality of the education as well as the wellbeing of the individual students.

The research questions were focusing on the individual consequences of the group work as part of the project studies. This was conceptualized and analyzed through Foucault’s concepts of power/knowledge and subjectivation. The empirical data were collected through observations, interviews, survey and texts.

The findings showed how the group-oriented discourse at the universities made certain forms of subjectivation possible while other forms were excluded, and how some (powerful) subject positions were open for some students while not for others. It also showed how the students, through their language and practice, positioned them selves and their fellow students. This had a significant impact on the possibilities and educational success of the students: while some students were marginalized or even excluded from the groups (and maybe even from the university) others were subjectivated as successful students.

These results demand the educational programs to take a greater responsibility for introducing the students to the (long-term) group work as well as to supervise the students in group dynamics and not just – as it is currently done – in the academic skills and content matters.

Thus, it points at the ethical qualities of the critical work of Foucault: that critique is an appeal to be constantly aware of what we are doing, and that what we are doing may have a significant impact on the individuals involved.

StatusUdgivet - 2016
BegivenhedFoucault@90 - University of Scotland, Ayr, Ayr, Storbritannien
Varighed: 22 jun. 201623 jun. 2016


LokationUniversity of Scotland, Ayr

ID: 165001796