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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Matters of care in Alberta's "Inspiring Education" policy : a critical feminist discourse analysis Bohachyk, Laura


This thesis explores the discursive treatment of care and caring relationships in educational policy in the Canadian province of Alberta. The object of this exploration is Inspiring Education, an ensemble of K-12 schooling policies. Feminist ethics of care literature and the work of theorists Joan C. Tronto, Virgina Held, and Hannah Arendt inform a critical interpretation of the policy texts. Closer analysis is achieved through techniques of discourse analysis, drawing primarily from the work of Norman Fairclough. This thesis is guided by the question “How are ‘care’ and ‘caregiving’ discursively represented—or not represented—in the policy texts of Inspiring Education?”  The purpose of this project is two-fold: (1) to illuminate particular discourses within educational policy texts and to consider the impact of those discourses on care practices across our society; and (2) to consider how the discursive treatment of teachers within these texts influences the possibility of a caring teacher-student relationship. The four discourses identified each constrain the possibility of caring relationships in particular ways. The first two discourses are related to the construction of the “educated Albertan of 2030” (Alberta Education, 2010, p. 5): Personally Responsible and subject to Private-Sector Norms. The second set of discourses is related to the construction of the teacher: Neoliberal Professionalism and Teacher-as-Facilitator. The implication of these discourses is that the maintenance of caring relationships will require greater sacrifice, that it will continue to be the hardest work, done by the very people excluded from the political process of assigning care responsibility.  By not acknowledging the role of care in our society and in our school system, we risk permitting the de facto methods of assigning responsibility to remain undisrupted and unfair.

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