"The quest for autonomy: a Foucauldian perspective on work‐based research"
by Siebert, Sabina; Mills, Vince (2007)
The relationship between the workplace, the researcher and the university is of a complex nature and all three stakeholders have their own influences on work?based learning. Defining the relationship between the stakeholders provokes a consideration of the issue of power, since power relations within a workplace can affect the reliability of findings. The organisational context and conflict of interest might pose a risk of the academic investigation being compromised. Following from Foucault's conclusion that the pursuit of personal autonomy in education is destined to fail, this article argues that autonomy of the researcher in the workplace can only be guaranteed by a robust defence of academic rigour by the academy in the support it offers the learner.
In Discipline and Punish, Foucault (1991) poses a question: how does one use power in a positive way? This question appears to be relevant to the power that the worker/ researcher is subject to in an organisational context. Drawing upon the positive use of power, Stewart Clegg (1998) carries out an interesting analysis of power in organisations. He claims that effective management extends people’s discretion, and discretion, in turn, empowers people. Consequently, empowerment enables openness and dialogue, and can ‘give people a voice’. (p.311)
KeywordsFoucault, Autonomy, Academic Work, Academia, Research Work, Power, Poststructuralism, University Work
ThemesOn Foucault, Foucault
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