From “therapeutic” to political education: the centrality of affective sensibility in critical pedagogy

Amsler, Sarah (2011) From “therapeutic” to political education: the centrality of affective sensibility in critical pedagogy. The Journal of Mental Health Workforce Development (Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice 1755-6228), 52 (1). pp. 47-63. ISSN 1750-8487

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While the need for humanising education is pressing in neoliberal societies, the conditions for its possibility in formal institutions have become particularly cramped. A
constellation of factors – the strength of neoliberal ideologies, the corporatisation of universities, the conflation of human freedom with consumer satisfaction and a wider crisis of hope in the possibility or desirability of social change – make it difficult to apply classical theories of subject-transformation to new work in critical pedagogy. In particular, the growth of interest in pedagogies of comfort (as illustrated in certain forms
of ‘therapeutic’ education and concerns about student ‘satisfaction’ in universities) and
resistance to critical pedagogies suggest that subjectivty has become a primary site of political struggle in education. However, it can no longer be assumed that educators can (or should) liberate students’ repressed desires for humanisation by politicising curricula,
pedagogy or institutions. Rather, we must work to understand the new meanings and affective conditions of critical subjectivity itself. Bringing critical theories of subject transformation together with new work on ‘pedagogies of discomfort’, I suggest we can create new ways of opening up possibilities for critical education that respond to neoliberal subjectivities without corresponding to or affirming them.

Keywords:critical pedagogy, critical theory, pedagogy of discomfort, subject-transformation, therapeutic education
Subjects:L Social studies > L370 Social Theory
X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:4973
Deposited On:29 Mar 2012 21:28

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