The Who? Didactics, differentiation and the biopolitics of inequality

  • Linus Bylund
  • Beniamin Knutsson
Nyckelord: biopolitics, didactics, differentiation, education for sustainable development, inequality


The three didactic questions – what?, how? and why? – are increasingly supplemented with a fourth: who? Drawing on Therborn’s distinction between difference and inequality, as well as on biopolitical theory, the present paper engages critically with the didactic who?-question. The paper situates the who?-question in broader discussions of educational differentiation, suggesting that it encompasses a tension between the recognition of difference and (re)production of inequality. Arguably, this tension becomes visible, and possibly more navigable, when we pose “Therbornian questions”. The paper further suggests that the who?-question can be understood, in biopolitical terms, as a technique for constructing various student populations as appropriate for different kinds of education. Such management of difference, the paper warns, can easily slip into a biopolitics of inequality. Despite our critical observations, we conclude that there might still be radical potential in the who?-question, provided that it is handed over to the students and that careful attention is paid to societal relations.

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