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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Raaper, R. & Olssen, M. (2017). In Conversation with Mark Olssen: On Foucault with Marx and Hegel. Open Review of Educational Research 4(1): 96-117.

Author(s) from Durham


It is challenging to define who Michel Foucault was, whether he was a theorist, a philosopher, a historian, or a critic. In many of his books, and essays, Foucault denied being a philosopher or a theorist, nor did he want to be called a writer or a prophet. He described himself as an experimenter by saying that his work simply consists of ‘philosophical fragments put to work in a historical field of problems’. Like Ball [2013. Foucault, power, and education. New York: Routledge, p. 2], we believe that Foucault tried hard not to be ‘a something’, opening up opportunities to develop and practise theory. Emeritus Professor Mark Olssen has written widely on Foucault’s theoretical underpinnings and legacy. This conversation aims to revisit Olssen’s work, as well as Foucault’s own writings in order to engage with Foucault’s philosophical background and the methods he developed. By exploring Foucault’s theoretical and methodological approaches, the conversation situates his work within broader traditions of social theory, particularly within the works of Marx and Hegel. Our conversation starts by discussing Foucault’s relationship with Marx and Hegel and moves towards his approach to history and his wider contribution to poststructuralist school of thought.

School of Education