Online ISSN : 2187-5278
Print ISSN : 0387-3161
ISSN-L : 0387-3161
Special Issue: Re-examining Education Reform
Performativity and the Afformative in Educational Reform : Toward the New Politics of Education(<Special Issue>Re-examining Education Reform)
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2009 Volume 76 Issue 4 Pages 412-423


Since the 1990s accountability and performativity have emerged as the key concepts of educational reform in global states, especially in the US, the UK, and Japan. According to Stephen Ball, performativity is a new mode of state regulation which marks the structural transformation from the old type welfare state to the post-welfare state regime. So in this paper I focus on the theoretical and philosophical implications of performativity. Stephen Ball points out two aspects of performativity. First, performativity makes it possible to govern in an advanced liberal way and expands opportunities for success. Second, performativity portends inner conflicts and anxieties of identity. These conflicts and anxieties make each individual or organization take ever greater care in the construction and maintenance of fabrications. Ball finds this second aspect a "cynical compliance" or using Judith Butler's words, an "enacted fantasy." We can call this a cynicism of performativity. But even if there could be such cynicism in this performativity, it could not necessarily be reduced to a "cynical compliance." Peformativity, as Butler says, can also be constructed toward plural identities. So it is possible to say that performativity is a kind of stake where multiple forces conflict to divert it for their own interests. In this sense performativity is a site of diversion politics. However another problem remains: how is it possible for identities constructed by performativity to be reproduced without being immobilized and without excluding alien others? It is a problem which cannot be resolved within the category of performativity. It is at this point that another category should be introduced to overcome the categorical limits of performativity. In this context Judith Butler focused on the divine violence which Walter Benjamin posits against the established legal system. Among others Butler, relying on the interpretation of Benjamin proposed by Werner Hamacher, captures the features of this divine violence as an action against the state which is a kind of omission, a failure to perpetuate the law of the state. Hamacher calls this omission, an interpretation of divine violence, the afformative. The afformative, or divine violence is a condition for any performativity and, at the same time, a condition which suspends its fulfillment. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri call this divine violence "constituent power," in which Hannah Arendt found a potentiality for "the establishment of an entirely new system of power." The main question of educational reform for us is not only how to limit power to education but also how to establish the power of education, not only how to limit politics intervening in education but also how to found a new politics of education. So it is in the affortmative, which we have examined in this paper, that we can find the condition of this new politics of education.

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© 2009 Japanese Educational Research Association
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