© 2008 - 2012 RICHARD STAINES.
Essay Assignment for 'Sociology of Education' module, MMASOC.03 held in the Spring Term, 2008
Institute of Education, University of London. Final Date for submission: Friday, June 6, 2008


  1. The performative and performativity: J. L Austin and J-F Lyotard
  2. Performativity and Conjuration: Judith Butler
  3. Performativity and schooling: further implications

ABSTRACT many powers, from the slow illumination of obscurities, the ever prudent reading of the essential...and the majestic confiscation of paternal authority are just so many forms in which the sovereignty of the gaze gradually establishes itself - the eye that knows and decides, the eye that governs. (Foucault, 1963:89)

They told us what to do, they said, 'this is what you need to do, you need to set up an assessment procedure to prove that everybody's improving and that's what we did and we managed to prove it surprise, surprise and so we came off special measures, we only did what we were told to do. (Ian, a school 'senior manager', quoted in Perryman (2006)


The term performative has assumed a precise meaning in language theory since John L. Austin's How to do things with words (1962). Objecting to the logical positivists' focus on the verifiability of statements, Austin introduced the performative as a new category of utterance, one possessing no truth value, since, unlike the classic constative 'snow is white', it did not describe the world but instead acted upon it - in effect a way of 'doing things with words'. Hence the statement, 'I now pronounce you man and wife' - something quite different from a constative utterance - depends for its successful outcome as a performative declaration on a number of 'felicity conditions' that remain impervious to evaluative verifiability. 'I apologise, I baptise you...I promise' could be forwarded as other examples. Austin argues towards the end of the book that all utterances are performative, even those appearing merely to describe a state of affairs, since all such utterances are to be viewed as actions, an equation which as Hall (2000) has noted, has been fervently taken up by linguistic anthropologists. For while the colonising behaviour of performative utterances can be rendered distinct from the constative, the opposite is untrue: the constative, Austin holds, is always bound up with certain conditions that apply to the performative such that the possibility for truth to occupy some 'purified' zone of stating cannot be considered tenable; claims of essential or abstract truth are positioned in contexts that take over the whole speech situation, in other words, conditions that are applicable to the language of doing apply also to the language of stating: constative statements being necessarily performative. Jean-Francois Lyotard, with whom within the philosophy of education the term performativity is customarily accredited, cites Austin's concept of the term in The Postmodern Condition, and in so doing links his own 'performativity' to Austin's understanding of the term:

The term performative has taken on a precise meaning in language theory since Austin. Later in this book, the concept will reappear in association with the term performative (in particular, of a system) in the new current sense of efficiency measured according to an input/output ration. The two meanings are not far apart. Austin's performative realises the optimal performance (Lyotard, 1984: 88)

By way of Lyotard, performativity has come to denote the emerging systemic relations within postmodernity: it is a neologism 'referring to the narrative rules underpinning the commercialised production of evidence in the sciences' (Brown, 2000). Through technological advancement, the telecommunications system and the advent of cybernetics, the 'grand narratives' of the Enlightenment, for example, those adhering to the progressive emancipation of the individual subject and to the speculative approach to knowledge, have been superseded by an economy privileging utility over truth, success over justice, information over knowledge. Serving as the 'equation between wealth, efficiency and truth', (Lyotard, 1984: 46) performativity and technologisation mark the context of a globalised world on which a neo-liberal ideology has been transnationally imposed (Beckman and Cooper, 2004) within which values and the values of educational practices have undergone displacement. In globalised modes of information transfer, knowledge transmission and dissemination, previously held understandings of knowledge are dislocated with terms used such as 'excellence' deployed like a brand, a label, and assuming the guise of another marketable commodity drawing attention to itself through stylistic designs and catchy slogans (Grierson, 2004). The progressive liberation of humanity through science, a predominant meta-narrative, has been one of several forming total philosophies of history that offered to lend shape to key societal ethical and political prescriptions. Whilst belief in such emancipation through scientific truth and social progress has not undergone wholesale rejection as a central theme within the modernist project, Lyotard argues that meta-narratives are increasingly becoming understood for what they are: masterful narratives enclosing narratives of mastery that are now accorded 'incredulity' since they are unable to, or unworthy enough to compel any lasting meaningful consensus towards the notion that certain kinds of knowledge are intrinsically worthwhile whilst others are not. According to Lyotard, research domains possessing the most efficient means of realising their outcomes now attract the most funding (Brown, 2000), a tendency which, within higher education at least, given the ascendancy of instrumental reasoning and an increasing proportion with procedure over substance or content, are inexorably giving way to normalising effects resulting from measures designed to standardise assessment and teaching. (Standish, 2002)

Drawing on Wittgenstein's (1953) model of language games, whereby analyses are conducted on the way societal sub-groups regulate their behaviour through certain rules of linguistic conduct, Lyotard describes his text as being a combination of two disparate forms of language game, that of the philosopher and that of the expert. Where the expert knows the extent and boundaries of the knowledge in question - what is known and what is not known - the philosopher knows neither but poses questions, thus creating an ambiguity in the light of which Lyotard asserts that his depiction of the state of knowledge 'makes no claim to being original or even true' and that his hypothesis 'should not be accorded predictive value in relation to reality, but strategic value in relation to the questions raised' (1984: 7). The book, then, is as much an experiment in the combination of language games as it is an objective 'report'. On his account, because the advent of communications technology has transformed knowledge into information, into coded messages within a transmission/communication system, analysing such knowledge compels a pragmatics of communication insofar as the phrasing of messages, their transmission and reception, is required to follow rules in order to gain acceptance by those who judge this 'knowledge'. In other words, the rejection of grand narratives gives way to little narratives, Wittgensteinian 'language games', limited and limiting contexts embodying clear, if not clearly defined rules for understanding and behaviour:

...the society of the future falls less within the province of a Newtonian anthropology, such as structuralism or systems theory, than a pragmatics of language particles. (Lyotard, 1984)

Through the sheer fragmentation of existence, professional and otherwise, into thousands of localised roles, each possessing their own specific context for judging actions and knowledge, the need for meta-narratives diminishes, a need eventually over-ridden with the result that professionals can become unrecognisable even to themselves (Ball, 1997). The self becomes conceptualised as a constellation of language games that experience perpetual collision and in its fragmentation resides at the unstable intersection of a series of these games which become absorbed into the ever-expanding commodity form; its own performativity becomes mandatory since it no longer has an 'other' on which a sense of identity can be legitimately founded. Demonstrations of performativity may therefore have little or no grounding in what was once perceived as a 'good performance' (Funnell, 1995) since the increased resulting opacity and complexity produced in public sector organisations by performativity engenders an emphasis on promotion, impression management, semiotic engineering and marketing. Indeed, those individuals who are not favourably positioned within the new structures, or who venture offering alternative perspectives, discover they lack a voice with which to raise concerns: the 'self' has no option but to become performative, it has no 'other' upon which to base and validate any coherent sense of identity. The issue of legitimation is inexorably raised because, as Lyotard stresses, the very role of the judge/legislator/decision-maker is itself also positioned within a language game:

...there is a strict interlinkage between the kind of language called science and the kind called ethics and politics. (ibidem: 8)

Science, in the 'information age', therefore, becomes closely interwoven with government and administration where, particularly in the West (and increasingly elsewhere) colossal amounts of capital and large installations are needed for research. Five interconnecting features become noticeable: (i) as 'reality' becomes recast to dovetail with performativity, there occurs a concomitant process of self-legitimation (a process perhaps not unlike Bourdieu's notion of doxa whereby myths can be seen as naturalising a particular social structure, rendering any alternative to it unthinkable). All functions of knowledge in use are inverted so that they appear to relate to the criterion of efficiency, in effect a process of corporatisation involving a dismantling and remounting of the historically derived languages of work, service, professional training and vocation depriving those within the system of their narrative culture; (ii) as performativity expands so does the amount of information, a phenomenon demonstrating the connection between power, modes of legitimation and the burgeoning of knowledge; knowledge itself (iii) undergoes compartmentalisation, its emphasis having been displaced from the ends of human action to its means (ibid: 37) and (iv) is subject to increasing mercantilisation whereby it forfeits its original 'use-value' as it ceases to become 'an end in itself':

The old principle that the acquisition of knowledge is indissociable from the training (Bildung) of minds, or even of individuals, is becoming obsolete...(ibid)

Non-teleological knowledge then (v) fragments into new, hybrid disciplines devoid of any meaningful linkage to older epistemic traditions, especially vis-a-vis philosophical enquiry:

Lamenting the 'loss of meaning' in postmodernity boils down to mourning the fact that knowledge is no longer principally narrative. (ibid: 26)

As the meta-narratives disappear from view beneath the proliferation of promotional semiotics, the preoccupation with style and technologically engendered language and information, so the narrative of social progress likewise disintegrates and is superseded by the essentially non-epic legitimation of knowledge and information attempting to optimise, principally in economic terms, the efficiency of the system in order to fulfil the requirements of the economy under conditions of globalised capitalism. Within this 'postmodern condition', education, for example, is required to discover its 'new' raison d'etre, to become 'efficient', to don the mantle of an instrumental functionality and, by extension, to replace 'ideals with skills' (Sarup, 1993: 138).

In a world where success means gaining time, thinking has a single but irredeemable fault: it's a waste of time. (Lyotard, 1992: 47)

But there is no overarching telos to efficiency: for even though it may appear that managers are maintaining some semblance of a notion of a social totality not dissimilar to that previously embodied by the displaced meta-narrative, the absence of a teleology and the unchecked competitiveness operating across and within the multiplicity of language games implies that the emphases on instrumentalism and efficiency, whilst operating as defining criteria, are ultimately unable to achieve stability or to be established together as forming a grand narrative. (Usher and Edwards, 1994) Moreover, the social totality has itself altered; no longer anchored to the certainties of the displaced meta-narratives of modernity, it has splintered, held together by the pragmatics of individuals functioning within it and working towards the maximisation of its efficiency. Propelled by the relentless quest for technical streamlined effectiveness, the system lacks a recognisable linearity in that it goes 'nowhere', whilst, paradoxically, within the panta rhei of late, advanced, disorganised, globalised capitalism, simultaneously changing.

The destruction of over-arching meta-narratives splinters the individual subject into heterogenous moments of subjectivity that ultimately fail to cohere into any recognisable wholeness, whilst the constituent remaining narrative elements disintegrate into 'clouds' of linguistic alliances and collisions among heterogeneous language games as a new unifying criterion emerges: the performativity of knowledge production/maximisation whose mode of capital is information, a performative legitimation demanding that anything that cannot be communicated as information must accordingly be eliminated:

The decision-makers....attempt to manage these clouds of sociality according to input/output matrices, following a logic which implies that their elements are commensurable and the whole is determinable. (Lyotard, 1984)

At least two implications from Lyotard become apparent: (i) within the postmodern condition the legitimation of knowledge resides in the 'success' of its performance as knowledge, and/or on how instrumentally effective it is in enabling a person to perform in particular roles. Knowledge and decision-making for the most part cease to be founded on abstract principles but on their adjudicated, presumed effectivity in attaining specifically desired outcomes:

...the principle of optimal performance [which] involves maximising output [the information or modifications obtained] and minimising input (the energy) expended in the process...(ibid: 44)

(ii): In circumventing ethical considerations, performativity verges dangerously towards the equation of 'might makes right', with science inevitably locked into the service of performativity - a confinement leading implacably to 'rule by terror':

[The decision-makers] allocate our lives for the growth of power. In matters of social justice and of scientific truth alike, the legitimation of that power is based on its optimising the system's performance - efficiency. The application of this criterion to all our games necessarily entails a certain level of terror, whether soft or hard. (ibid)

Neither Austin's performative, nor the systematic performativity accounted for by Lyotard are straightforwardly dealing with truth claims; what is significant about both is their comparable notion of 'success' as quantified by internal cohesion, that what is performed by the social actor is evaluatively accessible, that is, how well such performance adheres to key specific normative and regulatory procedures permitting measureability in terms of this success. Both writers, Lyotard in an entirely differerent context, are both concerned with the effectiveness of the speech act, on how things are achieved by words. However, for Austin, the performative is a fact of language, analysable in terms of its constituent elements, namely its locutionary aspect - the form of the words themselves -, its illocutionary impact (speech acts which through their enunciation carry out an action), and its perlocutionary consequences, the term covering what is accomplished by the performative utterance. (Huddleston, 1976, Ch.9; Lyons, 1977b Ch.16; see also Habermas, 1987: 67-70; and for an analysis on the utterances of Bush: Keeling, 2005) For Lyotard, performativity is a destructive force transfiguring scientists into technicians and knowledge into information; for it to function, however, the norms it expounds have to become stable, and he offers several examples of instances whereby science exposes its foundational principles to scrutiny, thereby changing its rules. What authorises scientist to persist in their search for truth in defiance of performative parameters is instability: the total speech situation fails to possess an absolute mastery over meaning (ibid: 53-60).


Despite his explorations into the semiolinguistic aspects of language through his identification of the locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary aspects of the speech act, Austin advances no claim that his account of the divergence between the performative utterance and the constative has been rendered absolute. Moreover, connected to (a) his underestimation of the initial impact of the locutionary aspect itself and (b) his focus on the constraints enacting themselves on language, forces which he conceives of as being exterior to it, is his failure, as Derrida insists, to account for the force of the locutionary aspects of language accompanying the form of the words themselves. For Derrida, the very words are subject to an internal force and movement; rather than being a matter of contexts determining their impact, an unlimited number of possible contexts exist inside the words themselves such that ambivalence and undecidability are always to be located within the interplay of discourses, political, philosophical and social, constituted within the text. (Hassard, 1993: 10).

The reference to Derrida at this point conveniently leads me towards a consideration of Judith Butler's notion of performativity, and in approaching an understanding of how to read the performativity of gender, Butler acknowledges her debt to Derrida in the introduction to Gender Trouble where she refers to the latter's reading of Kafka's Before the Law:

I wondered whether we do not labour under a similar expectation concerning gender, that it operates as an interior essence that might be disclosed, an expectation that ends up producing the very phenomenon that it anticipates...the performativity of gender revolves around this metalepsis, the way in which the anticipation of a gendered essence produces that which it posits outside itself. Performativity is not a singular act, but a repetition and a ritual, which achieves its effects through its naturalisation in the context of a body...(Butler, 1999: xiv-xv)

Initially drawing on the Althusserian notion of interpellation - the hail of authority - (Althusser, 1971), Butler encourages an understanding of the way the hail might be conceptualised as a performative in its own right and the degree to which subjects who are performatively constituted could engage in the kind of insurrectionary practices suggested by Foucault (1990). Furthermore, in drawing also on Bourdieu's notion of the habitus, she holds that bodily practices can be performative just as much as utterances, the performative functioning not only within discourse but also as an element within a discursive formation.

Knowledge vis-a-vis gender is held to be the effect of a performance which Butler terms 'conjuration', the term evoking the magical qualities of a process that performs its own essence, something, in effect, which is then rendered external and originary. Since gender is held to operate performatively, this process implies that in so doing it constitutes the very act that it performs: 'the anticipation conjures its object' (Butler, 1999: xiv-xv) with performativity conceptualised as being '....that reiterative power of discourse to produce the phenomena that it regulates and constrains' (Butler, 2000), the essential key to it being repetition: performative acts are types of authoritative speech. The performative enacts what it names - it names and makes, (Youdell, 2006:525) with gender constituting an act that has been rehearsed, not unlike a script that we, the actors - men, women, children in our daily behaviour - repeatedly realise by performing gendered actions through the reiterated 'citation' of gender norms but perhaps usually without realising it. Gender, then, is what one 'does' rather than being something that one 'is'; the 'doer' is merely a fiction added to the deed. But the norms are oppressive because a person's legitimacy and normalcy is dependent on conforming to one of two genders. Neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality are fixities since an individual subject is merely in a condition of 'doing straightness' or 'doing queerness' (Lloyd, 1999), the claim being that in Anglo-American culture at least, heterosexuality and gender are deeply imbricated such that they are routinely and repeatedly enunciated through an all-pervasive, presupposed, hegemonic 'heterosexual matrix' - one of Butler's most pivotal concepts - within which supposedly 'real' forms of masculinity and femininity are expressed. (Redman and Mac an Ghaill, 1996) Thus, to be a 'real' boy or girl would involve growing up heteronormatively, i.e. desiring the opposite sex - such is the compulsive, yet (crucially) simultaneously fragile power of the heterosexual imaginary. (Rich, 1983; Wittig, 1992; Ingraham, 1994; Davies 1993).

The body is that which can occupy the norm in myriad ways, exceed the norm, rework the norm, and expose the realities to which we thought we were confined as open to transformation (Butler, 2004: p. 217)

Performatively sustained, the norms of heterosexuality are held together in the sense that the essential identity they purport to express are mere manufactured fabrications. Boys, for example, to be accepted as appropriate boys, must perform themselves heterosexually before they can know what that performance might fully imply, for in order to be recognised as heterosexual, they may engage in signifying practices involving the abjection of the 'other', casting it out from the self: girls might be reviled and other boys denigrated as 'sissy' (or more likely now, 'gay') in the endeavour to signal: 'this is not what I am', a repudiation accomplished through acts/utterances signalling 'this is what disgusts me'.

Butler's approach to gender usefully deflects us from sociolinguistic approaches to identity that view the way we talk as directly indexing a prediscursive self (Livia and hall, 1997), a self which for Butler appears to be non-existent and which, through discursive practices themselves, subjectivation is effected:

'Subjectivation'...denotes both the becoming of the subject and the process of subjection...[it is] the making of a subject, the principle of regulation according to which a subject is formulated or produced. (Butler, 1997: p 84)

Being a subject is to be enmeshed in discourses and in the production of discursive power relations, a realisation carrying significant implications for educators since by uncovering and interrogating the subjectivating practices constituting particular kinds of pupils tied to particular subjectivities, particular kinds of schooling trajectories, as well as to wider educational arenas, it becomes possible for them to appreciate the potential for Butler's 'politics of the performative' as much as the politics involved in subjectivation (Youdell, 2006) and could help teachers more fully to understand that some students are rendered subjects inside the educational endeavour whilst others are rendered outside it. Although not directly linked to the quotidian minutiae of lives in educational and schooling settings, her analyses could potentially enable teachers to rethink their understandings of those students who are marginalised in schools as well as appreciate the extent to which pupils can be at constant risk of being exposed as incompetent or 'inappropriate'. Butler's conceptualisations stand in the profoundest contrast to the relentlessly impelled and largely unquestioned end-driven market model of the self now in the ascendant. Subjects, schoolchildren, constituted as lying beyond 'intelligibility' (Foucault, 1997) are confronted with the constitutive compulsion of a language that grants them little, if any, intelligible space; when they speak, they speak with a language that has already constructed the language they might have inhabited; they must engage in performative acts through which they can achieve recognition as either male or female, not both, not one and the other. Even biological sex, as it comes to be comprehended, is itself held to be a discursive production. Butler's critique of autonomous subjectivity (1992; 1993) affirms the Lyotardian perspective on agency (Godzich, 1992):

Agency is the hiatus in iterability, the compulsion to install an identity through repetition, which requires the very contingency, the undetermined interval, that identity insistently seeks to foreclose. (Butler, 1993: 220)


Performativity in education and schooling in the wider sense is connected to the performativity of the social system as a whole, with each aspect of the educational process being subject to the requirements of efficiency, the central task of educational institutions being to operate in the most efficient ways to provide individuals with the learning they require in order to optimise their contribution to the social system. (Usher and Edwards, 1994). Variously described as a 'condition' in which instrumental thinking predominates and which has 'joined forces with managerialism to threaten older and more vibrant ideas of education as a liberal ideal' (Smeyers, et al 2004: 4), performativity serves as a 'steering mechanism', 'a principle of governance [establishing] strictly functional relations between a state and its inside and outside environments'.(Yeatman, 1994). It is also a culture, a technology, a mode of regulation and control, and fundamentally pivotal to any grasp of its raison d'etre is the recognition that it cursorily transmutes the intricacies of social processes, interactions and occurrences into simple figures and/or classifications of evaluations. The inculcation of 'skills', far from being a new role for schooling and education, is unquestionably an inculcation requiring 'skills' to supplant ideals, yet this new configuration of demands simultaneously requires the social purposes of education to stay unsevered, as evinced, for example, in the notion of 'personalisation' - 'meeting individual need'. This notion has recently assumed a new emphasis, but, as Eccleston (2006) has observed, it is a politically promoted production of some conceptual vagueness, rhetorically bearing its sloganised and oft-reiterated flourish, 'every child matters'(ECM) (see also Johnson, 2004) and should have comprised a great deal more than the manipulation of techniques for individualising products, educational and otherwise, in the commercial style of companies. As it is currently, (ideologically) being deployed, the speciousness of the term enables it to foster neo-liberal attitudes to 'choice' whilst 'showing compassion by conferring emotional affirmation as the basis for engagement.' (Eccleston: 2006:463)

Indeed, rather than being governed by a vision of a just society which 'personalisation' might at first sight be thought to be promoting, the activities of professionals have become preoccupied by the imperatives of efficiency with the notion of 'competence' or 'skill-performance' assuming a dominant position within educational transactions. Currently pervading teachers' work, the discourses of these 'regimes of truth', operate alongside a market discourse, and rely on schools instituting self-disciplinary measures to satisfy transparent public accountability regimes whereby institutions are compelled to focus their practices on 'improving performance' and survival in the maintenance and development of their market share (Jeffrey, 2001). Performativity might simply - somewhat innocuously perhaps - be defined as 'being about performing the normal within a particular discourse' (Perryman, 2006: 150) such that when, for example, undergoing inspection, not only is there the fiat that schools produce policies and documentation mirroring the expected discourse, but that teachers are obliged to give lessons that have to be 'delivered' [sic] in a particular manner. Gerald Grace, writing from within the context of an enquiry into the relationship in Catholic education and schooling between marketisation, morality and justice, offers a caveat:

Catholic schools, along with other schools in England and Wales, have been subjected to an intensified work and surveillance culture...[and] it seems likely that contemporary school life is becoming colonised by a hegemony of performance indicators and likely....that the spaces for spiritual reflection and development are being reduced. (Grace, 2002:206)

Grace's observation illustrates the extent to which schooling has undergone a thorough recasting by a plethora of forces including (i) the intrusion of external agencies requiring that schools operate in the 'national interest', a claim habitually couched in the economic imperative of heightened international competition; (ii) the fiscal crisis of the state in which schools are perpetually exhorted to do 'more with less'; (iii) the fragmentation and breakdown of other social institutions occurring simultaneously at a time when schools are expected to assume a more complex range of functions; (iv) the recentralisation of control - in effect 'centralised decentralisation' (Bash and Coulby, 1989) - which is happening in circumstances where it is made to appear as if these hegemonic manoeuvres are conferring more autonomy and decision-making on teachers; and (v) the expectation that schools act more like private enterprises by competing with one another for resources and students - functions that risk seriously detaching, or at least deflecting them from the purpose for which they exist, namely teaching and learning.

Performativity is embodied within the ceaseless flow of policy initiatives currently shaping and determining the work of teachers in the classroom, and the sine qua non that teachers operate within more rigidly demarcated policy frameworks has been accompanied by a heightened emphasis on determining the worth of teaching in quantifiable outcomes and a totalising and irresistible current steering schools and their staff towards processes more pertinent to those of the corporate and industrial sectors. These policy initiatives have the added quality of exhorting the virtues of education and schooling in terms of a commodity, a commodity no different from any other, one that is accessible to scrutiny and measurement, and able to be calibrated regularly in terms of 'quality standards' as well as packaged and delivered to target audiences. (Smyth and Shacklock, 1998: 23)

These developments also feature the expansion of the 'new managerialism' in universities and schools, spawning forms of organisational control privileging the 'freedom to manage' over alternative discourses (Clarke, 1998: 178) and at least two different levels on which the consequences of these discourses can be seen operating are readily identifiable, a significant one lying embodied (1) in the very language currently deployed within the 'bureaucratic ethos' (Mills, 1959) of 'school effectiveness' discourse, as well as in its continuous appearances through the multiple idee fixes of educational management-speak itself. Mills, writing some fifty years ago, presciently cautioned that:

Ours seems to be a period in which key decisions or their lack by bureaucratically instituted élites are increasingly sources of historical change. Moreover, it is a period and a society in which the enlargement and centralisation of the means of control, of power, now include quite widely the use of social talk of 'prediction and control' without confronting the questions such developments raise is to abandon such moral and political autonomy as one may have. (Mills, 1959: 129-130)

'School Effectiveness' research has become almost a commodity itself, a sizeable and far-reaching industry preoccupied, somewhat atheoretically, with 'problem solving', and through its injunctions to school managers, (injunctions which routinely de-emphasise both socio-economic and immediate policy contexts within which schools operate), roundly exhorts them to 'get on and do the job by focusing on their own little domain of the school' (Angus, 1994).

Headteachers, parents and school governors should be given greater power to run their own institutions, because this would involve the local community in ensuring that good standards are achieved. 'School based leadership ensures an effective climate for learning' (World Bank Review, Priorities and Strategies for Education, 1995, quoted in Watson, 1996: 47-48)

Whilst 'success' here is perceived as being a state coterminous with 'good' management and 'good' teaching, it rests, as Gewirtz has pointed out, (2002: 113) on an insecure footing since little reliable foundation exists upon which to conclude that 'good' management and teaching are responsible (her emphasis) for it; indeed the converse may be the case - namely, that school 'success' contributes to 'good' management and teaching (ibid: 113-114), whilst school 'failure' potentially may give rise to less 'effective' management and teaching. A school having a high proportion of high attaining pupils, provided it is adequately resourced, can attract talented, high achieving teachers; morale may be high and teachers can focus on the development of creative and imaginative curricula. Conversely, in schools deemed to be 'failing', agendas, both for individuals and for the collective, can become sidetracked on resource issues and on behavioural matters. (Thrupp, 1998) Furthermore, the very nature and phenomenon of teacher 'effectiveness' lies open to critique in ultimately defying generalisability:

...on the basis of the evidence, the more closely an appraisal procedure is designed for use in a particular teaching situation, the more valid it can be expected to be...the lack of stability of teacher effects with the same group of pupils over similar topics...suggests that the same procedures may suffer a significant deterioration in validity when applied to situations which are not very dissimilar. We should therefore hestitate to speak about a teacher's effectiveness except in relation to specific situations. Teacher many cases...cannot be taken seriously at all. (Byrne, 1987: 37-39)

(2): Performativity also operates primarily as an accompanying handmaid to the aggrandising expansion of capital in as much as it spawns totalising sign-systems that, self-referentially, come to 'stand for' for education as it acquires recontextualisation within a reified consumption mode, a factor which assumes valorisation, within the ideology and practices of education marketisation. For the classroom teacher there is no escape: (s)he becomes ineluctably subjected to, and inscribed by, the array of 'performative indicators' through the sedulousness with which the endeavour is made, (sometimes, it has to be said, desperately) to discharge contradictory exigencies (Ball, 1998) as well as through the attempt to inhabit frequently competing, emergent and often irreconcilable subjectivities implied by these imperatives. Teachers are encouraged to think of themselves as individuals 'adding value', 'striving for excellence', to 'live an existence of calculation' (Ball, 2006: 145) such that in so rapidly becoming wedded to this discourse, new teacher subjectivities appear, subjectivities involving mechanisms generating the appearance of a self no longer able to 'find its core in its place within an organisation of knowledge and practice' (in Bernsteinian terms, 'mechanisms of projection'), but a self which instead becomes virtually an imaging of classroom and curriculum fortuities, of 'external contingencies' or existential 'moments', as it were, that threaten, cumulatively, to induce 'guilt, uncertainty, [and] instability' (Ball, 2006: 149) in the teacher. Bernstein (2000: 1942) has termed these as being 'mechanisms of introjection'.

In conclusion, what has been called the 'commodification of education' is evident beneath the logic of these processes I have tried to describe, the language of competency, performance and effectiveness replacing broader language systems centred around knowledge, understanding and personal development. In the process, teachers and learning undergo redefinition through restructuring by a technicist logic that can do little more than turn schools over to the needs of the most able. Technique wins over substance and education turns into a parody of itself as rationality itself undergoes redefinition to signify not thoughtfulness but meeting bureaucratic need and conforming to the economy. In the process even one's sense of the history of these commodifying processes is lost.


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