Third International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology
Sarah Mann,
University of Glasgow,


The experience of higher education can be enhancing or diminishing; engaging or alienating (Mann, 2008). Whilst the focus of this symposium is on student engagement, the contribution of this paper is to examine this issue from its other side, in other words from the perspective of the experience of alienation. The paper will first offer a brief account of the student experience of alienation in higher education and frame this issue as the repression of desire and the undermining of agency. It will then highlight the role of power within the educational process and explore its implication for the experience of alienation and agency. The role of power will be developed further through four different theoretical perspectives: the psychoanalytic concept of the false self; the Marxist concept of the ownership of production; the concept of discourse; and the Foucauldian notion of disciplinary practices. The paper will conclude with a consideration of the implications for our practice as teachers in higher education.

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© 2008 Victor Karandashev