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Education and British Values

4. The Sociology of Michel Foucault

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In this module, we think about the work of Michel Foucault, focusing particularly on: (i) Foucault’s understanding of the role of the modern state in identifying threats to mainstream society and removing them through what he calls dividing practices; (ii) his distinction between state power in premodern societies, which he terms biopower and which is based on physical domination, and modern state power, or biopolitics, which is based on subjectification; (iii) the process of subjectification as the means by which individuals are taught to behave and think according to the norms of mainstream society.


In this course, Dr Shaun Best (University of Winchester) explores the role of British values in education in both sociological theory and policy. In the first module, we think about different theoretical perspectives on values and their role in education, focusing especially on the ideas of Émile Durkheim. In the second, we consider education policy around the promotion of British values in schools, before turning in the third module to the Prevent strategy and the duty since 2015 on schools to promote British identity as a means of countering terrorism. In the fourth and final modules, we think about the ideas of Michael Foucault and how they can be used to understand the role of values in education.


Dr Shaun Best is Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at the University of Winchester. He researches and teaches on social theory, particularly the work of Zygmunt Bauman, and the sociology of education. His recent publications include The Emerald Guide to Zygmunt Bauman (2020), Zygmunt Bauman on Education in Liquid Modernity (2019), and Talcott Parsons: Despair and Modernity (2016).

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APA style

Best, S. (2021, August 23). Education and British Values - The Sociology of Michel Foucault [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Best, S. "Education and British Values – The Sociology of Michel Foucault." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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