Governing ‘authentic’ religiosity? The responsibilisation of parents beyond religion and state in matters of school ethos in Ireland

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The aim of this paper is to advance scholarship on the governance of religious difference and its relationship to social reproduction, inclusion and exclusion, with specific reference to parenting, schooling and childhood. Rather ask ‘how does the state and religion govern religious pursuits?’, the focus of this paper is ‘how might parents’ and children's religious expressions be already implicated, or caught up in, the ordering and coordination of complex social systems?’ Drawing on Foucault's concept of governmentality, it analyses how the political rationalities of freedom of choice and diversity are deployed through media discourse. The paper traces an iterative process of producing a symbolically ‘new’ national space, which re-legitimises state (and more ‘discerning’ school patron) power in a marketised, global age. It argues that ‘Irish’ parents are evaluated in this imagined space in terms of their capacity to combine consumption and religious practices responsibly and authentically. In its implicit citation and elision of generational, classed and racialised hierarchies, the mediated, moral governance of responsible religious and ethical subjects, expressions and practices becomes clear. The paper concludes by noting the potential contribution of governmentality thinking to contemporary debates on religious and secular governance.


Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalIrish Journal of Sociology
Publication statusPublished - 2013