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Free nursery places for 'disadvantaged' 2-year-olds: from 'abilities-machines' to ‘tradeables'

Lee, Siew Fung; (2019) Free nursery places for 'disadvantaged' 2-year-olds: from 'abilities-machines' to ‘tradeables'. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Free nursery places (FNP) for ‘disadvantaged’ 2-year-olds in England are intended to promote children’s educational outcomes, narrow the attainment gap and encourage parental employment. Through a strategic deployment of Foucault’s ‘governmentality’ as an analytical tool of power, I critically explore how FNP constitutes a ‘disposition of space for economico-political ends’ (Foucault, 1980, p. 148) in governing ‘disadvantage’. Specifically, how ‘disadvantage’ is constructed as a problem of the population, and in turn, is productive of particular subjectivities and practices. This thesis deploys a policy genealogy of ‘disadvantage’ through mapping the historical development of FNP and an ethnographic multiple-case study of three early years settings in London. Ethnography resituates the genealogy of ‘disadvantage’ within the specific context of settings in building a richer understanding of everyday ‘realities’ of children and adults. Here the wider implications of FNP on the lives of families living in inner London in relation to housing and employment are explored. Through Foucault’s analytics of power I reconceptualise FNP as an assemblage of technologies that governs by conducting the conduct of ‘disadvantaged’ subjects. This technologically driven analysis investigates how new forms of knowledge and conduct are rationalised and thus normalised through human technologies (Rose, 1999b). I contend that power operates through complex and heterogeneous ways - biopolitics, biopower, sovereignty and disciplinary power - and in different dimensions. Using concepts such as ‘abilities machines’, ‘modifiable practitioner-machine’ and ‘micro-violences’, this thesis explores the different rationalities and techniques that are productive of new amenable forms of subjectivity for governance. I contend that the project of FNP reimagines skills for human capital as modes of ‘readiness’ which I call techno-capital in rendering the construct of ‘disadvantage’ useful, as in governable. Techno-capital mutates and adapts to specific and situated rationalities within sites – a techno-logic which normalises conduct and everyday conditions towards certain expectations or predetermined outcomes.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Free nursery places for 'disadvantaged' 2-year-olds: from 'abilities-machines' to ‘tradeables'
Event: UCL Institute of Education
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10074628
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