Governmentality and the reflection of legal educators : assessment practices as a case study

Ball, Matthew J. (2010) Governmentality and the reflection of legal educators : assessment practices as a case study. The Law Teacher, 44(3), pp. 267-282.

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This paper presents a conceptual framework, informed by Foucault’s work on governmentality, which allows for new kinds of reflection on the practice of legal education. Put simply, this framework suggests that legal education can be understood as a form of government that relies on a specific rationalisation and programming of the activities of legal educators, students, and administrators, and is implemented by harnessing specific techniques and bodies of ‘know-how’. Applying this framework to assessment at three Australian law schools, this paper highlights how assessment practices are rationalised, programmed, and implemented, and points out how this government shapes students’ legal personae. In particular, this analysis focuses on the governmental effects of pedagogical discourses that are dominant within the design and scholarship of legal education. It demonstrates that the development of pedagogically-sound regimes of assessment has contributed to a reformulation of the terrain of government, by providing the conditions under which forms of legal personae may be more effectively shaped, and extending the power relations that achieve this. This analysis provides legal educators with an original way of reflecting on the power effects of teaching the law, and new opportunities for thinking about what is possible in legal education.

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ID Code: 38897
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Governmentality, Legal Education, Assessment, Foucault, Ethical Reflection
DOI: 10.1080/03069400.2010.524030
ISSN: 1943-0353
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900) > Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified (189999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Taylor & Francis
Deposited On: 29 Nov 2010 02:31
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2012 12:49

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