Från barn till elev i riskzon : En analys av skolan som kategoriseringsarena

Sammanfattning: The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to describe and analyse how school children are constructed into being pupils at risk. The research questions focus on what governing practices and techniques are used for and how power relations are expressed in a pedagogical practice.An ethnographic case study was conducted. Empirical data was collected during one year’s time comprising documents (pupils’ written material, teachers’ logbooks), classroom observations, and interviews with teachers as well as interviews with pupils and their mothers.For analytical purposes the material was divided into three main fields: What is said – speech, What is written – text and What is done – action. This was analysed by applying some central terms derived from Michel Foucault: governmentality, genealogy, pastoral power, regulation and examination processes. How pupils’ deviate behaviour is currently interpreted and dealt with in a pedagogical practice was of particular interest here.The outcome of this study suggests that teachers are part of a normalisation process, steering each other on the basis of conceptions and ideas rooted in the power and knowledge generally applied to the ”good school” of today. In Foucaultian terms this could be described as a process in which teachers constitute themselves as moral subjects. The teachers’ own conviction of governing ”the good school” can, however, be contrasted by their deeply rooted conceptions of pupils. Pupils are compared and categorised on the basis of judgments of what normality is. These normalising judgments can be understood in the light of the schools’ task and function in society. This task and schools’ function are not quite visible in the pedagogical practice and conceptions of deviance become more comprehensible. The predominant conception is that pupils should be responsible subjects equipped with internalised self-regulatory techniques. Whenever this does not appear to be the case, a need for various kinds of expert knowledge is created with the intention of directing pupils and parents towards what is conceived as normality. While schools’ and teachers’ failure is temporary, judgements of pupils’ deviance prevail throughout their school years. Pupils’ own strategies are not of relevance for the pedagogical practice. An ensuing effect of this is the construction of risk zones by the very pedagogical practice that considers children irresponsible objects. This doctoral thesis results in a suggestion as to how we could benefit from the challenging power constituted by pupils.