This paper explores the constitution of power and knowledge in science and technology classrooms. A deepened examination of the teaching of science and technology is partly motivated by these subjects high status in society, how they portrayed as crucial both for the individual, in order to function in an increasingly technologically advanced society, and for the society at large, while finding it increasingly difficult to attract interest among the youth. In the Swedish context, where this research is carried out, it can further be noted that while the country is top-ranked on a number of equality indices and in general has a reputation that highlights its commitment to eradicating social inequalities, the labour market is still highly gender segregated and in university educations focused on the physical sciences and engineering men are substantially overrepresented (Nyström 2009, Alexandersson 2011). This somewhat paradoxical situation further motivates studies of how science and technology are constructed in and beyond the classroom in Sweden, since often cited reasons to women's underrepresentation in science and technology in, for example, the U.S., such as the legislation regarding parental leave and the tenure clock (Rosser 2012), is much less applicable to the Swedish context. In our research project we take a particular interest in a period where research show that many students lose interest in science and technology, namely the last years of compulsory schooling (cf. Lindahl 2003, Archer et al. 2010). By a deepened exploration of how power and knowledge interrelate in moment-to-moment interactions in the classroom we therefore hope to provide some additional clues as to how micro-inequalities, adding up to patterns of exclusion in science and technology (Rosser 2012), occur in the classroom context.
The aim of this paper is to develop and illustrate the use of a conceptual framework for exploring how power relations are constituted in the technology classroom – in terms of what Foucault (1982/2002) conceptualises as 'actions upon actions' (p. 340) – by the research questions:
1) How are teacher actions communicating how and what knowledge is privileged in the classroom?
2) How is this knowledge privileging establishing power relations, in terms of possibilities for student actions?
ECER 2014: The Past, the Present and Future of Educational Research in Europe, Porto, September 1-5, 2014