De-societalizing the school: On the hegemonic making of moral persons (citizenship) and its disciplinary regimes

Allen Chun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In Asylums, Erving Goffman once famously said that what is prison-like about prisons is found in institutions whose members have broken no law. In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault gave a more sociological spin on the normality of the prison, by saying that the apparatus of sequestration must manufacture a behavior that characterizes individuals; it must create a nexus of habits through which the social 'belongingness' of individuals to a society is defined, that is to say, it manufactures something like norms. Thus, what is sociology, if not the study of society based on the functioning of normative institutions, such as prisons and schools, predicated on integrating individuals into the whole? What is pedagogy, if not the methodology of putting into practice a system of education that represents at the same time the routinization of an ethical world view and the socialization of individuals in the making of society? Foucault's genealogy in short gave birth to a critical perspective on the evolution of modernity, pointing not only to institutions that sublimated overt spectacles of power but also to the problematic role of the social sciences in policing all aspects of society. In East Asia, education was not just the evolution of a modern regime made compatible with all other socializing institutions, such as the family, military and workplace. Above all, it was a systematic construction of the state, with historical lineages in an imperial system that reproduced a mandarin meritocracy. The omnipresence of the Ministry of Education epitomizes ultimately the hegemonic role of education, especially in the making of the nation-state. More than just socializing, it manufactures a normality of belonging where culture, citizenship and structured modes of routinized behavior perform overlapping disciplinary functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-167
Number of pages22
JournalCritique of Anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • citizenship
  • cultural critique
  • discipline
  • Education
  • nation-state
  • Taiwan

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