Compulsion and volition: A genealogy of the high-school dropout (1918-2018)




Torres, Isaac

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This study seeks to problematize the concept and category of the U.S. high-school dropout, by constructing a Foucauldian genealogy of the same, from 1918-2018. Using post-structuralist methodologies, critical discourse analysis and policy archaeology, this study problematizes the socio-political intersections that come to identify social problems, and normalize them as a technique toward social order, and the regeneration of the status-quo. In this case, the status-quo is symbolized by a white, European structure of empire assuming a socially dominating positionality, within a Nation as Family conceptual framework, and symbolized by a Strict Father governmental system. The public school, then, becomes a nursery for potential, assimilating student bodies. As a monotheistic solar framework gives way to a technological cloud deity in twenty-first U.S. schools, power processes are punitive responses are also problematized. The analysis of texts, records, archives, and documents are further problematized by a triangulation between qualitative data collected via autoethnographic and reflexive systems of analysis, and semi-structured, phenomenological interview data collected from former high-school dropouts. High-level findings are three: (1) Equity is primary: Give the most to the student who is most in need; (2) Equity is motion: Create schools where everyone can feel free and connected; and (3) Equity is examination: Create critical white studies early, to deconstruct empire and historical trauma. Educational leaders can benefit from reframing their understanding of their selves and their students by implementing some of the methods and theoretical/conceptual frameworks presented here, toward school improvement.



Dropout, Compulsory education


Torres, I. (2019). <i>Compulsion and volition: A genealogy of the high-school dropout (1918-2018)</i> (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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