The system will be going down for regular maintenance at 6pm NZT today for approximately 15minutes. Please save your work and logout.
A Foucaultian discourse analysis of educational 'underachievement' : psychology's run away concept : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Underachievement is a dominant feature in educational discourse; it is often framed
as a ‘crisis’ affecting different social groups, or even whole countries. A particularly
common depiction of underachievement is that of a ‘gap’ affecting ethnic minority
and working class groups. Nearly 60 years of research, reform and policy attempts
to address this ‘gap’ have made little progress in lifting achievement levels. This
paper uses a Foucaultian discourse analysis method to encourage a reformulation
of underachievement discourse, particularly as it relates to minority ethnic students.
A genealogy of the conditions of possibility which gave rise to underachievement
reveals this concept and its related assumptions and processes (such as testing) to
be part of a broader system of power relations which structure education in favour of
dominant cultural and economic needs. The discipline of psychology has been
instrumental in providing a supposed scientific basis to the dominant educational
values of scientific management, efficiency and neoliberalism. This thesis posits that
underachievement is a socially located concept which is able to exist and shape
social realities due to its convenience to dominant educational and cultural
practices. In revealing the social nature of psychological knowledge on
underachievement, psychology’s claims of the possibility of objective social
knowledge under post-positivistic, empirical methods are also brought into question.
Keywords: Underachievement, Foucault, Discourse Analysis, Genealogy,