THEMATOLOGICAL AND METHODOLOGICAL ORIENTATION

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CHAPTER 4: ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND GENEALOGICAL CRITIQUES OF THE NQF DISCOURSE

INTRODUCTION

Purpose of this chapter

The purpose of this chapter is to systematically describe power in the South African NQF discourse and to present a summary of the results of the Foucauldian critique of the development and implementation of the NQF. The qualitative analysis takes place within a Foucauldian theoretical framework and employs two Foucauldian research methods, archaeology and genealogy:

  • Archaeology is used to describe the NQF discourse – in effect presenting a “snapshot” or slice of the discourse.
  • Genealogy is used to reveal the NQF discourse as a system of constraint – describing various processual aspects within the discourse.

The qualitative analysis is preceded by a detailed coding process using ATLAS.ti software of an empirical dataset containing the transcripts of various interviews and focus groups with NQF stakeholders, responses by NQF stakeholders to discussion documents published by the Departments of Education and Labour, as well as a range of articles published in the news media between 1995 and 2005.

Summary of preceding discussions

In this chapter the qualitative analysis of the NQF discourse is presented. The analysis is heavily dependent on the work that precedes this chapter, namely:

  • The purpose of the study and the problem that is being investigated (from Chapter 1)
  • A description of the NQF discourse (also from Chapter 1) A Foucauldian critique of the development and implementation of the South African NQF      277
  • The Foucauldian theoretical framework and research methods (described in Chapter 1 and developed in more detail in Chapter 2)
  • Identification and explication of objects in the NQF discourse (from Chapter 3).

 Purpose of the study and problem being investigated

As explained at the beginning of this thesis, the purpose of the Foucauldian critique of the development and implementation of the South African NQF is to support improved future development and implementation.
In order to achieve this purpose, the study is underpinned by an explicit recognition of the researcher’s social location and three research assumptions, namely that the researcher has the legitimacy to speak about power in the NQF discourse, that the Foucauldian theoretical framework and research methods are best suited to the study, and that the qualitative research design is most appropriate for the study.
Based on a discussion in Chapter 1 of the three periods of NQF development and implementation, namely the Conceptualisation period (early 1980s to 1994), Establishment period (1995 to 1998), and Review period (1999 to 2005), it was observed that the development and implementation of the South African NQF was being influenced on three fronts:

  • “Rootedness” of the NQF in contestations
  • Unrealistic expectations of the NQF by NQF stakeholders
  • Negative effects of power struggles within the NQF discourse.

Following from these three observations, the following problem was formulated and is addressed throughout this study:
Power struggles are having a negative effect on the development and implementation of the South African NQF.

NQF discourse

The study has required a clear and concise understanding of the primary object being investigated. In Chapter 1, it was explained that the NQF is more than a framework of qualifications; that it is rather a complex social construct with specific overt and/or covert purposes that is implemented and overseen by the South African government. It was also explained that in order to critique the development and implementation of this NQF, it is necessary to look beyond a narrow definition of 278  A Foucauldian critique of the development and implementation of the South African NQF the NQF to a broader interpretation that would encompass the diversity of objects that are associated with the NQF. After aligning the definition to the Foucauldian theoretical framework, the following definition of the NQF discourse was accepted:
The NQF discourse is a dominant, influential and coherent amalgamation of divergent and even contradictory views, which support the development of an NQF that replaces all existing differentiated and divisive education and training structures.
Importantly, it was suggested that for the purposes of this study, the NQF discourse would be suitably represented by the particular choice of the empirical dataset, namely 300 interviews (including focus groups), 90 responses to discussion documents and 72 news articles, as these sources contain a significant number of divergent and contradictory views as expressed by NQF stakeholders.

Foucauldian theoretical framework and research methods

As explained in Chapters 1 and 2, the Foucauldian theory provides the logical structure and fixed frame of reference within which the critique of the development and implementation of the South African NQF to date can take place. The purpose of the critique is to:
Support the improved future development and implementation of the South African NQF.
Foucauldian theory also provides a lens through which the research problem is viewed, namely that:
Power struggles are having a negative effect on the development and implementation of the South African NQF.
Within this framework, power is interpreted as: existing only in action – power should be analysed in how it is exercised and what its effects are without developing strategies to undermine power; power also has positive effects – power should not be studied as a form of repression, its positive effects must also be considered; power exists in a complex relationship with knowledge; power appears in a variety of guises; and power is only established within discourse – in this case, the NQF discourse.
The selection of the Foucauldian theoretical framework is based on the inclusion of empirical evidence, extensive engagement with power as social phenomenon, and the suitability of the two embedded research methods, archaeology and genealogy, that were developed particularly to study power relations.
As discussed in the preceding chapters, archaeology is the ‘…systematic description of a discourse object’ (Foucault, 1972:156). In the context of this study, the discourse object is the NQF discourse, and archaeology is used, by applying it to the empirical dataset, to describe this NQF discourse. As also discussed earlier, the archaeological method involves three components: the identification of objects within the NQF discourse (these emerge from the typological positioning of the NQF in Chapter 3 – see the discussion below); the identification of unities within the NQF discourse; and the description of strategies that emerge from identified objects and unities within the NQF discourse.
Genealogy, on the other hand, is the ‘ …union of erudite knowledge and local memories which allows us to establish a historical knowledge of struggles’ (Foucault, 1980:83). Just as archaeology gives a “snapshot” of the NQF discourse, genealogy describes the processual aspects of the NQF discourse by identifying hidden origins and functions and then revealing the NQF discourse as a system in which power is exercised. The genealogical method involves three components (as well as a fourth combinatory step): the identification of erudite knowledges within the NQF discourse; the identification of local memories within the NQF discourse; the identification of knowledges opposed to power within the NQF discourse; and the identification of constraints within the NQF discourse.
An important feature of the research design is that both archaeology and genealogy are applied to the same empirical dataset, i.e. the dataset is coded twice and therefore also analysed twice. The different purposes of the two research methods, the one describes a “snapshot” of the NQF discourse, while the other describes the processual aspects of the NQF discourse, are seen to be complementary. Collectively the results of the two critiques give an improved multidimensional description of the NQF discourse – not only the one dimension of themes and theories that form a “slice” or “snapshot” of the NQF discourse, and not only the dimension of a range of “lineages” of historical knowledges that form the processual aspects of the NQF discourse, but a combination.

Identification and explication of objects in the NQF discourse

The NQF literature review, as presented in Chapter 3, had two important interlinked purposes. The first was to present the findings of a detailed review of NQF literature; the second was to identify common objects in the NQF discourse that would form the basis for the qualitative analysis presented in Chapter 4, most significantly for the archaeological critique. As a result, the outcomes of Chapter 3 are also twofold. The literature review made it possible to make a number of important observations (see Table 18 in Chapter 3) and also to investigate the positioning of the South African NQF between the early 1980s and 2005. Secondly, it was found that the NQF typological components, as utilised during Chapter 3 to present the findings of the literature review, constitute comprehensive descriptive categories of various aspects of NQF development and implementation. Consequently, the typological components constitute most of, if not all the common objects that statement in the NQF discourse could refer to. At the very least, the typological components are, in some way or another, linked to additional objects in the NQF discourse.
Arguably pragmatic, the identification of these objects – Guiding philosophy; Purpose; Scope; Prescriptiveness; Incrementalism; Policy breadth; Architecture; and Governance – proved to be useful and contributed to a simplified but effective analysis.

Structure of this chapter

Considering the preceding discussions, this chapter is structured into three distinct, but interrelated, sections:

  • Coding of the empirical dataset
  • Archaeology as critique
  • Genealogy as critique

The first section is a brief description of the coding of the empirical dataset, done within the ATLAS.ti environment, which precedes both the archaeological and genealogical critiques. The second section presents the findings of the list coding of the empirical dataset, based on the components of the NQF typology. This archaeological critique includes the identification of objects, unities and strategies in the NQF discourse. The third section presents the findings of the coding of the same empirical dataset. This genealogical critique includes the naming and categorisation of erudite knowledges, local memories and knowledges opposed to power, culminating in the identification of a number of constraints in the NQF discourse.
In Chapter 5 the results of the application of archaeology (mainly the identified strategies) and genealogy (mainly the identified constraints) are used to describe power in the NQF discourse.

Referencing of empirical data

The empirical dataset (as contained within the ATLAS.ti hermeneutic unit) has been kept separate from other source documents. References to documents in the empirical dataset do not include page numbers, even when extracts are used as supporting evidence. References to other source documents include page numbers when cited. The empirical dataset, consisting of 300 interviews (including focus groups), 90 responses to discussion document and 72 news articles, is not included in the reference list. All other source documents are listed in the reference list.

CODING OF THE EMPIRICAL DATASET
Introduction

The first step in the qualitative analysis of the NQF discourse is the coding of the empirical dataset using ATLAS.ti software. The execution of this step takes places within the ATLAS.ti hermeneutic unit and as such does not warrant a detailed description (the hermeneutic unit, including all the primary documents, is available as an exported html file, but has not been included as an annexure in this thesis, as it was considered too lengthy; it is however available on the compact disc that accompanies this thesis).
The discussion is therefore limited to the following aspects:

    • Empirical dataset that was included as primary documents
    • List coding as part of the archaeological critique
    • List coding as part of the genealogical critique.

SUMMARY AND KEYWORDS
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS 
CHAPTER 1: THEMATOLOGICAL AND METHODOLOGICAL ORIENTATION
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.4 CONCEPT CLARIFICATION
1.5 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
1.6 OUTLINE OF CHAPTERS
1.7 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: PERIODIC AND THEMATIC REVIEW OF FOUCAULDIAN THEORY
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 PERIODIC REVIEW OF FOUCAULDIAN THEORY
2.3 THEMATIC REVIEW OF FOUCAULDIAN THEORY.
2.4 OVERVIEW OF PERIODIC AND THEMATIC FINDINGS
2.5 SUMMARY.
CHAPTER 3: EXPLICATION AND IDENTIFICATION OF OBJECTS IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 ORIGIN OF THE NQF
3.3 GUIDING PHILOSOPHY AS OBJECT IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.4 PURPOSE AS OBJECT IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.5 SCOPE AS OBJECT IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.6 PRESCRIPTIVENESS AS OBJECT IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.7 INCREMENTALISM AS OBJECT IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.8 POLICY BREADTH AS OBJECT IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.9 ARCHITECTURE AS OBJECT IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.10 GOVERNANCE AS OBJECT IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.11 SUMMARY OF OBSERVATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH OBJECTS IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
3.12 POSITIONING THE SOUTH AFRICAN NQF IN RELATION TO THE OBJECTS IN THE
NQF DISCOURSE
3.13 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND GENEALOGICAL CRITIQUES OF THE NQF DISCOURSE.
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 CODING OF THE EMPIRICAL DATASET.
4.3 ARCHAEOLOGY AS CRITIQUE
4.4 GENEALOGY AS CRITIQUE
CHAPTER 5: FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 POWER IN THE NQF DISCOURSE
5.3 MINIMISING THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF POWER STRUGGLES
5.4 REFLECTION ON THE RESEARCH DESIGN AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
5.5 CONCLUDING COMMENTS.
REFERENCES
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
A FOUCAULDIAN CRITIQUE OF THE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK

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