A Plea for a Sociology of Political Problematizations in Schools

Special Report. School Policies Coordinated by Frédéric Sawicki.
By Frédéric Sawicki

French political scientists have neglected school public policies. The main studies in this field so far have been conducted by foreign political scientists or, since the 1990s, by sociologists and historians. This second group insists on the development of neo-managerial forms of school governance and the resistances they may cause, but it tends to focus on the grassroots level and on the effects of public policies and reforms on students’ performances in terms of social inequalities. This paper focuses on the question of the “problematization” of school issues, as Michel Foucault defined it, i.e., a “set of discursive or nondiscursive practices that makes something enter into the play of the true and false, and constitutes it as an object for thought.” Such a way of analyzing school reforms implies paying more attention to high civil servants, experts, political parties, trade unions, and various interest groups and their fights to impose a new conception of the main function of schools.

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