source: Irish Times
source: Irish Times

Over the last three weeks, Professor Kathleen Lynch has been invited to present her work at three academic events, in Ireland, Austria, and the UK. You can see the abstracts of her talks below.

Kathleen Lynch (2016) “Why Affective Equality matters for Social Justice in Education: Care, Education and Resistance”  Conference Care and Carers in Education: Performing, imagining and resisting, September 5th  2016, University of Roehampton, London, UK

This paper will draw on research evidence from two major studies of education: a study of senior appointments across primary, second-level and higher education (Lynch, Grummell and Devine, New Managerialism in Education, 2015 2nd ed.) and an ongoing study of staff working in various areas of higher education[1]. It will also reference a related study of higher education students[2].

I will explore the ways in which the fundamental nurturing (educare) purposes of education are being challenged by a hyper-masculinised and economised model of the ideal citizen, both for staff and students in higher education. I will also comment on the ways in which the market narrative is mediated and resisted by staff and students’ educational and care imaginaries: they expect care in education; and their presumed future, and for many, current lives, are not just defined in terms of occupational or career goals. Their lives are also relationally-led in terms of care and love.  The affective domain of love, care (and solidarity) constitutes an emerging site of gendered resistance to the globalised commercialisation of higher education in particular and education more generally.

The core theoretical premise of this paper is that the nurturing that produces love, care and solidarity constitutes a discrete social system of affective relations.  Affective relations are not social derivatives, subordinate to economic, political or cultural relations in matters of social justice. Rather, they are productive materialist human relations that constitute people mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. Given the materiality of love and care labouring, and the fact that this work is highly gendered (and in the case of low-paid care work, highly raced and classed), affective relations are sites of political import for social justice both inside and outside of education.

If love and care are to thrive as valued social practices in education and social life however, public policies need to be directed by norms of love, care and solidarity rather than norms of capital accumulation. To promote equality in the affective domains of loving and caring a four dimensional rather than a three dimensional model of social justice, as proposed by Fraser (2008), is necessary. Such a model aligns relational justice, especially in care and love labouring, with the equalization of resources, respect and representation.

[1]For details see

[2] SeeLolich, Luciana and Lynch, Kathleen (2016) ‘The affective imaginary: students as affective consumers of risk, Higher Education Research and Development. 1-14. DOI:10.1080/07294360.2015.1121208

Lolich, L. and Lynch, K. (2016) Aligning the market and affective self: care and student resistance to entrepreneurial subjectivities. Gender and Education, DOI 10.1080/09540253.2016.1197379

Kathleen Lynch (2016) “Equality and Solidarity: Challenges for Europe” European Forum Alpbach 2016Session: Liberté – Égalité – Solidarité: Changing Value Systems in the 21st Century, Political Symposium, August 28-30th 2016, Aplbach, Austria

Solidarity is not possible without equality, especially economic equality but also political, cultural and affective equality.  The reason for this is that solidarity is ultimately contingent on trust and lack of fear. Societies where there is growing economic inequality (and rising economic insecurity and predictability) will generate fear and anxiety (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009). This happens especially among those who are relatively insecure already (those who are poorest and in insecure employment), but also among those who may fear the loss of their relative, but vulnerable, privileges, namely the majority middle class and better off working class.  Economic and social inequalities make people resentful, fearful and lacking in trust and this undermines solidarity.

Because solidarity is an emotional expression of political values, it cannot be guaranteed simply by the rule of law (Calhoun, 2002).  Solidarity involves appreciating the vulnerability to suffering one shares with others. To be operationalised, it requires a willingness to sacrifice something one values to support the welfare of others.  While governments can and do operationalise solidarity through welfare and tax regimes, the credibility of these is contingent on their political legitimacy.

This is why promoting solidarity and care for others requires Europe to create new political imaginaries based on concepts that are moral/ethical. The narrative and values of neoliberal capitalism has to be challenged by new narratives of care and social justice. This needs to happen through formal and informal education, but also through media campaigns that highlight different visions of a solidaristic future. But such education campaigns will only work if the injustices that generate resentment, isolation and exclusion are addressed institutionally through changing economic, political and cultural relations and eliminating the many growing inequalities and marginalisations emerging in Europe and throughout the world.

‘Democratic societies need to reorient their values away from support for the ‘market’ to support for the means for people to live human lives’ (Tronto, 2013 Caring Democracy: 45)

Kathleen Lynch (2016) “New Subjectivities: Auditing and the Creation of a Care-less Culture in Education and Society” European Educational Research Association Conference (EERA)/ECER Dublin: UCD August 22nd – 26th 2016, Keynote address Sociology of Education Network 28 

Measurements are inscription devices that constitute what they appear to represent: numbers literally make people up. The newspaper/online reader or television viewer is then allowed to ‘know’ the value of a person, a school, a university in an instant, just by reading a number. There is no translation or effort involved. The belief in the objectivity of numbers allows educational measures to be circulated throughout Europe and the OECD without fear of contradiction. The net result is that grades, league tables, ranks become naturalised, normalised and validated, through familiarity and ubiquitous citation, particularly through recitation as ‘facts’ in the media. School audits, test scores, league tables and rankings attain an unwarranted truth status simply by virtue of unscrutinised circulation.

The power of numbers rests in their unassailability to the mathematically uninitiated: truth in numbers has a higher status, and is seen as less contestable than truth expressed in narrative form. The fear that people have of mathematics feeds into feelings about numbers and this, in turn, grants power the measurement industry. On the surface, the simplicity of numerical ordering appears to remove any sense of arbitrariness from the process of educational measurement. It creates an impression that what is of merit can be hierarchically ordered and uncontrovertibly judged. Numbers have an aura of mystery and power and are assumed to be without ideological bias. Yet, numbers are derived from a standpoint, a political and intellectual position and are open to interpretation and distortion. Moreover, what gives numbers global currency in ranking people and institutions is what makes them inappropriate as measures of appraisal: they bypass deep moral and ethical issues as to what is or is not of value in education and society.

Auditing and measuring of educational outputs is the cornerstone of new managerial practice at the organisational level. It is a form of its disciplinary regulation that not only changes the way people relate to the workplace, to authority and to each other but also the way people define themselves. Drawing on empirical research on primary, secondary and higher education for New Managerialism (Lynch, Grummell and Devine, 2012) and a further on-going study of working, learning and caring in higher education, this paper will analyse how the measure becomes the master/mistress of what matters not only educationally but throughout society. It will explore in particular the particularities of measurement practices and how they alter the culture of education so that education’s core purpose, educare, to nurture, becomes a minor and trivialised value even though education itself cannot succeed without it.

Three recent talks by Professor Kathleen Lynch: abstracts
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