Francisco Valenzuela

Driving (e)quality: Exploring subjectivity in the implementation of emergent public sector reforms in Chilean higher education

Francisco Valenzuela

PhD student, University of Essex

Start of the project: October 2011

Funding: Government of Chile scholarship

Abstract: This research project explores what occurs to public sector managers when they are confronted with the challenge of implementing new public organizations devised to change the future prospects of a population with a growing desire to achieve equality in terms of national and personal “development”.  Particularly, it analyzes the subjective effects that such institutional commands and sociopolitical callings can produce when they arrange the driving discourses of a new institutionality (laws, management systems, human resources, among others) in the higher education system in Chile, namely the values and systems around the notion of “Quality”. The unique context of this austral country, in which theories about the allure of “post-politics” and the aftermaths of “shock doctrines” seem to paint a faithful picture of current sociopolitical dynamics, provides a fascinating frame to inquire about the managers’ experience,which features not only a symbolic engagement to cultural traits and ideologies, but also and predominantly an affective embodiment of those engagements. This study attends to their work experience and takes advantage of the sensitive range of psychoanalytic theories to follow it through succint enquiries about the role they are set to play: How does it feel to take ownership of a mission which essentially requires transposing overarching streams of political and managerial discourse into concrete acts for the benefit of citizens? What happens when those streams demand contradictory or even paradoxical identifications to carry out these transpositions? Can this transposition be a component part of their identity and what they can elaborate about themselves? How exactly can a body, along with its affects and emotions, support such transposition?

Contact: fjvale AT