Constituting the Managerial Subject: An Investigation into Middle-Management in FE

  • Anthony Fort

Student thesis: Doctor of Education


This doctoral study draws upon interviews with nine curriculum-based FE college middle-managers, and three college strategic plan documents, to critically analyse middle-management identity. Through the use of an analytical framework based on Foucault's archaeological and genealogical 'method' the study shows that when middle-managers talk about their professional practice they are preoccupied with data-metrics. Consequently, they are recognised as 'disciplined subjects'; disciplined by those data-metrics materially inscribed within the discursive regimes of their college strategic plan documents. The study additionally indicates that the more hierarchically senior the middle-manager the greater the intensity of focus upon data-metrics at the expense of institutional social relations, whereby their preoccupations with data-metrics yield de-socialising effects between themselves and key institutional participants such as teachers, learners and support staff. The study further suggests that while the middle-managers within this study were curriculum-based they were not curriculum-focused; findings which were consistent through the range of middle-management levels: senior-middle, lower-middle and middle-middle, and at separate college sites. Considered together these findings raise a number of important questions for the crucial role of curriculum-based middle-managers, particularly where middle-management as a function is recognised as the means by which policy implementation is secured yet where curriculum-based work, when understood as necessarily tied to pedagogic practices, requires a focus around 'the learner'; a learner not ontologically foregrounded as data, but in authentically social terms.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCarlo Raffo (Supervisor) & Helen Gunter (Supervisor)


  • Middle-management FE Foucault

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