Inspections: governing at a distance

Clarke, John (2014). Inspections: governing at a distance. In: Grek, Sotiria and Lindgren, Joakim eds. Governing by Inspection. Studies in European Education. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 11–26.



In this chapter we establish some of the main lines of thinking that have informed our approach to studying school inspection. From the outset, we have been concerned with the work that inspection does as a means of governing schooling in our different settings. As a result the first section that follows locates our interest in the ever-expanding literatures on governance, governmentality and regulation, each of which lays claim to the challenge of thinking about how social organization is governed after government or the state. We locate our own interest in the processes and practices of governing in this landscape. More precisely, we explore ways in which inspection can be seen as one way of ‘governing at a distance’ and then consider the strange mixture of distance and proximity that inspection involves as a form of embodied regulation in the second section. In the third section, we borrow and develop the idea of assemblage as a way of thinking about how different forms of inspection are composed in the diverse settings of this study. Finally, we end with the ‘inspection question’ that has underpinned all our work on this project: Why inspect?

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