1st Edition

Foucault and Educational Leadership Disciplining the Principal

By Richard Niesche Copyright 2011

    School principals are increasingly working in an environment of work intensification, high stakes testing, accountability pressures and increased managerialism. Rather than searching for the latest leadership fad or best practice model, this book suggests that in order to better understand these pressures, the work of educational leadership requires more sophisticated theorisation of these practices. In so doing, the book draws upon the work of Michel Foucault to provoke new thought into how the principalship is lived and ‘disciplined’ in ways that produce both contradictions and tensions for school principals. Amidst claims of a shortage of applicants for principal positions in a number of Western countries, what is required are more sophisticated and nuanced tools with which to understand the pressures and constraints that face principals in their work on a daily basis. This book provides a powerful example of theory working through practice to move beyond traditional approaches to school leadership.

    Key features of the book:

    • provides a well theorised analysis of leadership practices
    • acknowledges the messy reality of life for school principals
    • provides key insights to the ‘real’ work that principals undertake every day
    • examines the production of principals’ subjectivities in education, foregrounding issues of gender and race
    • includes the principals’ voices through rich interview data.

    The book will be of significant interest to principals and those working and researching in educational leadership, including researchers in the field and academics who teach into educational leadership and administration courses. The book will also be of great interest to those working with the ideas of Foucault in education.

    1. Introduction  2. A Foucauldian Toolbox for Educational Leadership  3. Discourses of Educational Leadership  4. Disciplinary Regimes under Self-Governance  5. Leading and Managing as Ethical Work  6. ‘Doing’ Leadership Differently


    Richard Niesche is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Education at the University of Queensland, Australia, where he teaches and conducts research in the areas of educational leadership, social justice and Indigenous education.