EDEV_505 Week 2_1

“The dream of reason did not take power into account” (Starr, 1984, p. 3).

I read your post with interest as it highlighted many issues that undergird the power bases that inform policy and also as a case study of problems that arise when policy (or non-policy ‘suggestions’) are not thought through.

You write;

“Optometrists … argued that the ability to conduct eye exams lie only within their scope of practice” (Yee, 2016).

It would be instructive to know how they could convince the Minister of Education and who, representing what, was present during that discussion. Also, knowing who was excluded and why would be interesting.

I opened with a quotation from Starr (1984) who charts the transformation of the medical profession in the United States from its roots “the most despised of all” (p. 7) to the dominant professional force. The means by which this transformation was achieved involved the extensive use of power involving the politics of health care that tied the social issues of health care with the competing values espoused by the political parties. The notion of discipline has been characterised as a method of controlling the “production of discourse” (Sugimoto & Weingart, 2015, p. 775, drawing on Foucault), and Starr’s book can be read as an extended essay on this metaphor.

A profession’s knowledge base allows it to be packaged and sold as a commodity (Eraut, 1994) and consists of three components; the science and theory that the discipline rests on, how the knowledge is applied, and the skills and attitudes that those in the community of practice embody (Schön, 1983). These elements comprise the instruments that practitioners sell their wares, yet they can only become commodities when they have acquired the status of being authoritative. However, the access to power may limit a potential stakeholder’s ability to assert their interest. Policy can only be a dialectic process (Bell & Stevenson, 2006), when all stakeholders are ‘granted’ (note the irony implicit in this term) access to the discussion board. From the sparse details in your report, I cannot understand why a group as authoritative as opticians could have had their access blocked. Is there representation in your state weak? Is there a history of malpractice, or some other negative social capital in play? Does limiting the professional scope of optician allow some other unseen benefit to arise?


Bell, L., & Stevenson, H. (2006). Education Policy: Education Policy Process, Themes and Impact. London and New York: Routledge.

Eraut, M. (1994). Developing professional knowledge and competence. London: Routledge Falmer. http://doi.org/9780203486016

Schön, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Basic Books.http://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

Starr, P. (1984). The Social transformation of American medicine. Basic Books.

Sugimoto, C. R., & Weingart, S. (2015). The kaleidoscope of disciplinarity. Journal of Documentation, 71(4), 775–794.

Yee, J. (2016). Re: Week 2 – Institutional responses, part 1. [forum board post]. Retrieved 17 July 2016 from https://elearning.uol.ohecampus.com/webapps/discussionboard/

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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