How can the applied philosophy of Sartrean free-will and Foucauldian negotiated autonomy assist in creating proactive learning experiences in art education?

Matthews, Miranda. 2012. How can the applied philosophy of Sartrean free-will and Foucauldian negotiated autonomy assist in creating proactive learning experiences in art education?. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis investigates the possibilities for applying Sartrean existential philosophy and Foucauldian post-structural theory to practice in art education. I have focused on Sartre’s concepts of free-will and agency, considering the subject who is capable of transforming life situations; as compared with Foucault’s theorisation of regulatory discourses, the social construction of subjectivity and his ventures into possibilities for negotiated autonomy.

I have been a teacher in sixth form art education throughout this research and have concentrated on this area of education, although I think that some of my findings could be applicable in other areas. Research into the potential for applying philosophy in further education, particularly in practice, is I think an area that has not yet been developed.

To explore my leading question I have analysed data from semi-structured interviews of three research groups: teachers and practitioners, policy makers and sixth form students. I gathered responses from participants in these pedagogical domains to enable a comparative approach between different angles upon issues of freedom and autonomy. I wanted to explore the interface between subjects with polarities of experience, including the precarious interface between educators and policy makers. My reflections on the extent to which policy regulates agency in art education have extended from the 2009 interviews to consider policy changes since the 2010 election.

I have viewed the data presented by my focal participants through the conceptual frameworks of Sartrean and Foucauldian philosophy, comparing the stances and relevance to education of aspects of each system of thought. I have also conducted action research of my own teaching practice. I planned and taught projects for students which investigate the potential for using existential and post-structural theory as a contextual resource, and as a critical tool for encouraging discursive learning spaces and a more questioning and proactive engagement with learning.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Additional Information:

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Educational Studies, Philosophy, Art Education

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


June 2012

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Apr 2013 13:16

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:37


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