Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


University of Wollongong. School of Learning Studies


This thesis examines the social construction of studenthood in New South Wales between 1788 and 1948. It focuses on the role of the state in this process while recognising that it was not the only agent involved. More specifically the thesis analyses the role of the state in defining studenthood and how this changed the relationship of youth to the state. Informed by Foucauldian theory and critical theory on the state, it seeks to render both 'the state' and 'the student' problematics in the history of education.

The thesis argues that as studenthood is an institutionalised concept it has been influenced by the social purpose of schooling. For state authorities this purpose has been one of controlled social change; change which has been contextualised by the form and mode of operation of the state itself. It also argues that studenthood is a concept which continually undergoing transformation, and that class, gender, race and age relations have been central to its construction. Indeed, much of the evidence illustrates the studenthood became an institutionalised means of delineating the social behaviour of youth. The thesis concludes that although this was not a unified and linear development, studenthood had become the major social relation which defined youth in New South Wales by the 1920s.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.