Gaps in Theory and Practice of Power Dynamics in Education

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Gaps in Theory and Practice of Power Dynamics in Education

Author(s) : Sybil Thomas


Power is complex and omnipresent. Not only is it a visible part of daily life, but its presence as a social construct can be seen in a variety of disciplines. Dahl (1957) states that despite power’s focus as a variable of analysis since antiquity, our understanding of it is far from complete. Power is often thought of as something possessed and there in lays the tendency to view it as something tangible. However, we see that even this conception of the tangible aspect of power is debated upon. In the context of education this theme is pertinent because; the concept of power is one of the factors that determines the organizational culture, and in turn, the success of any educational system. The paper is divided into two sections; firstly to share some empirical findings on existing organizational cultures as perceived by teachers of educational institutions and to look at some of the perceptions of power that teachers have constructed for themselves. Secondly, the paper is a beginning of a discussion on the need to look at the concept of power in education and relook at theories to see how power can be used for the betterment of our educational institutions. The need for this paper emerges from the author’s personal experiences and sharing the belief of Michele Foucault that power also has a productive dimension. It contributes to individual’s self making and prevalent in any relation and finally power always can be contested.

Keywords: Power, organizational culture, education