Wordart 3

Authority and Knowledge: People, Policy, Politics

Thursday 13th & Friday 14th February 2014

The University of Melbourne

There is a fundamental relationship between authority and knowledge: the entitlement to know, to speak, and to act relies upon claims of expertise, power and experience. Forms of authority pervade our social relationships, from teachers and students, to parents and children, and the various public roles undertaken by politicians, journalists and researchers. Past and present, the relationship between authority and knowledge has placed ‘knowledge-making’ institutions at the centre of the struggle for social, cultural, and political authority. Like many other nation states, Australia’s concern to buttress and develop its ‘knowledge economy’ has brought the role of educational institutions into greater focus. The current reforms engulfing ‘knowledge-making’ institutions throw into sharp relief the premium placed on knowledge production, and the various claims to authority that follow. This includes, for example, the framing of the purpose of research as providing an ‘evidence-base’ for policy; the centralisation of knowledge claims through federal-level curricula stipulation at all levels of education; shifting relationships between students and teachers; and the centralisation of research funding and governance mechanisms. These changes have significant effects upon the ways in which authority is expressed, through and over knowledge, socially, culturally and politically, in the media and public discourse, through schools and universities, and within social life.

This conference aims to bring researchers together who are currently engaged in research concerning the nature, form and function of authority and knowledge historically, socially, culturally, politically and institutionally. We welcome papers that address the multifaceted ways in which claims to authority and knowledge permeate everyday social life, political understandings and practices, and policy reform (people, politics, policy).

Papers may cover such issues as:

  • The diverse ways in which authority and knowledge shapes understandings, and practices of, citizenship
  • Historical, cultural and social practices of authority and knowledge production
  • The relationship between power and authority, including contestations over practices of authority
  • The institutional claim to authority over knowledge in public discourse
  • The effects of ‘evidence-based’ policy agendas on the form and function of research knowledge
  • Analysis of past and present reform agendas surrounding knowledge-making institutions
  • Gender, race and class and constructions of knowledge and authority
  • Modernity, neoliberalism and changing forms of knowledge/authority
  • Authority, legitimation and social order, and limits of authoritative knowledge
  • Knowledge, empowerment and social justice
  • Inter-relational, inter-generational and pedagogic authority and power
  • Knowledge societies, knowledge economies and ‘knowledge work’

We invite proposals for:

  • Standard papers
  • Panels/symposia, having 3 papers and a chair
  • Short sharp papers, which distil a key idea or provocation in a 5 minute, 1 slide, presentation

The conference is being convened by researchers from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

For more information, including online abstract/proposal submission form, go to the official Knowledge and Authority conference website.

Convenors (all at University of Melbourne): Dr Jessica Gerrard, Dr Peter Woelert, and Dr Katie Wright.