Beyond Education and Society : On the Political Life of Education for Sustainable Development

Abstract: The objective of this dissertation is to develop a theoretical and analytical framework for understanding the political in education from a social and global perspective. With this objective in mind, it employs an empirical engagement and theoretical reflection on how this political can be seen to emerge in policy making on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Policy making on ESD is interpreted as engaging in the constitution of the social and globalisation, where the non-determination of this practice is seen to require political acts of identification with particular perspectives on what education, society and, as a result, ESD should be. Book I constitutes a theoretical and analytical framework that outlines central concepts, such as antagonism, temporality, space and rhizomic globalisation, in order to conceive of how the political in education can be understood and analysed in concrete articulations, such as policy making on ESD. The findings of the empirical analysis underlying this dissertation and that address the political in policy making on ESD are presented in the papers that are incorporated into this dissertation as part of Book II. Paper I discusses how we can conceive of the relation between ESD and globalisation and makes an argument that this relation should be seen to be political and characterised by conflicting perspectives on what ESD is. Paper II presents the findings from a comparative study of policy making on ESD that engages with concrete policy on ESD in order to reflect on how globalisation can be seen to emerge in these instances of policy making. Paper III presents the findings of a comprehensive discourse analysis of Vietnamese policy making and shows how the concepts of ESD and Sustainable Development are contested among different perspectives of how Vietnamese society should be constituted. The dissertation as a whole makes an argument for the inescapable political condition for education and how this condition necessitates the articulation of concepts such as ESD that name an inaccessible state beyond conflict and social antagonisms that is to be achieved through education.