Publication Details

McCuaig, L., Ohman, M. & Wright, J. (2013). Shepherds in the gym: employing a pastoral power analytic on caring teaching in HPE. Sport, Education and Society, 18 (6), 788-806.


Drawing on research conducted in Australian Health' and Physical Education (HPE) and Swedish Physical Education and Health (PEH), this paper demonstrates the analytic possibilities of Foucault's notion of pastoral power to reveal the moral and ethical work conducted by HPE/PEH teachers in producing healthy active citizens. We use the pastoral power analytic to make visible the consequences of caring HPE/PEH teaching practices which appear unassailable as producing a general 'good' for all students. In so doing we undertake the challenge posed by Nealon to be attuned to those social practices that appear beyond reproach as 'power becomes more effective while offering less obvious potential for resistance'. From this Foucauldian perspective we argue that caring HPE/PEH teachers employ a wide range of normalization tools to interpellate young people into a specific model of 'normal' healthy living, simultaneously determining those who represent problematic deviations from the norm. We further argue that instead of discarding or ignoring these students, such deviations call upon the HPE/PEH teacher to care more fervently, to employ more intense strategies of individualization such as togetherness, encouragement and familiarity. In conclusion, we highlight the tensions and implications that may result for HPE/PEH teachers and their students.



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