Character and Resilience in English Education Policy: Social mobility, Self-governance, and Biopolitics

Spohrer, Konstanze and Bailey, Patrick, L.J. (2018) Character and Resilience in English Education Policy: Social mobility, Self-governance, and Biopolitics. Critical Studies in Education. ISSN 1750-8487 (Accepted for Publication)

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In recent years, character education has enjoyed a resurgence of interest in different national contexts. In England, the publication of a ‘Character and Resilience Manifesto’ by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility in 2014 put character education on the government’s agenda, primarily as a means to improve social mobility. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of ‘problematization’, this article examines how ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’ are constructed and legitimised through expert knowledges in the Manifesto. We find that by drawing on evidence from psychology and behavioural economics, ‘character’ is predominantly understood as a set of skills and dispositions to be developed in order to boost individual labour market outcomes and wider economic growth. Hence, social mobility is framed a (increasingly) biological and psychological understanding following a logic of human capital enhancement. Contextualising the findings in Foucault’s work on ‘governmentality’ and ‘biopolitics’, we argue that the call for character education is part of a wider intensification of the demand for self-government and self-investment – a demand that is particularly pronounced for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article due to be published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Studies in Education once published it will be available at, available online:"
Keywords: character education; biopolitics; governmentality; education policy; social mobility; resilience
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Education Studies
Depositing User: Konstanze Spohrer
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2018 09:55
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2018 09:55

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