Care of the self in a knowledge economy: higher education, vocation and the ethics of Michel Foucault

John Drummond

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)


    Perhaps it is time to place recent policy developments in nursing and, in particular, nurse education, in the wider context of what is now commonly referred to as a knowledge economy. Such a discourse now permeates government policy at all levels.2 The term ‘knowledge economy’ is, as one would expect, primarily a signal for strategists and policy-makers that it is time to take note of a fundamental shift in the role and treatment of knowledge in both the manufacturing and service sectors. The latter includes both health and education. It is important, therefore, that we begin to grasp the concept in the terms and purposes of these policy-makers, and are able to reflect on its implications for nursing knowledge and practice. That is essentially the purpose of this paper. It begins with an outline of what different commentators have intended by the term ‘knowledge economy’ and how that is held to differ in emphasis from its predecessor, an industrial economy. The paper then examines the presence of ‘knowledge-economics’ in nursing discourse-practice. To facilitate this examination, I use the concept of Foucauldian ethics as a relation that one has with one's self. Introducing the dimension of Foucauldian ethics will allow us to consider the knowledge economy in a manner that introduces the self into a relation with knowledge, and yet also calls us to work on ourselves in a manner that is a permanent provocation with respect to its incitements. In the final part of the paper, I argue that a knowledge economy requires a new kind of critical awareness in which both an ethics and aesthetics of education may play a central part. I do this by introducing the ancient Greek concept of the epimeleia heautou.3 But first, an overview of significant features of a ‘knowledge economy’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-69
    Number of pages13
    JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


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