Reflexive professionalism: reclaiming the voice of authority in shaping the discourses of education policy

Theresa Bourke*, Mary Elizabeth Ryan, John Lidstone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The nature and value of "professionalism" has long been contested by both producers and consumers of policy. Most recently, governments have rewritten and redefined professionalism as compliance with externally imposed "standards." This has been achieved by silencing the voices of those who inhabit the professional field of education. This article uses Foucauldian archaeology to excavate the enunciative field of professionalism by digging through the academic and institutional (political) archive, and in doing so identifies two key policy documents for further analysis. The excavation shows that while the voices of (academic) authority speak of competing discourses emerging, with professional standards promulgated as the mechanism to enhance professionalism, an alternative regime of truth identifies the privileged use of (managerial) voices from outside the field of education to create a discourse of compliance. There has long been a mismatch between the voices of authority on discourses around professionalism from the academic archive and those that count in contemporary and emerging Australian educational policy. In this article, we counter this mismatch and argue that reflexive educators' regimes of truth are worthy of attention and should be heard and amplified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-413
Number of pages16
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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