This PhD thesis is a sociological perspective on the structuring of modern society, education and above all an insight into the logics of conceptualising of discovering and maintaining its quality. The quality is thematised as part of mechanisms providing the security of the modern society, educational field and individuals.
The thesis attempts to show, how in the process of tackling uncertainties, the modern society has been structured in the light of security dispositive as one of the anchorage points of the rationality in political economy which following liberal conceptualisations of governmentality has become a political rationality in managing populations.
These may be followed as shifts from juridical and disciplinary dispositive to dispositive of security in establishing regulative mechanisms of directing and regulating the life conditions of the population (biopolitics) (Foucault comp. 2009 and 2008b).
Even though political economy has been understood as a productive rationality regulating the modern society, Weber (comp. 1978 and 2002) and Bourdieu (comp. 2005) highlight the limitations and uncertainties which are caused by political rationality itself, in particular in the case when rationality of economic field interferes in other areas of society. The consequences of this hegemony are considered as risks of contemporary society by Beck (comp. 2001) in Bauman (comp. 2002)
In addition, other authors commonly anchor their reflections and criticisms on the delays of regulative mechanisms of political economy and new liberalism. In our discussion, this is an important deviation from assuring security into a rationality of security of continuous growth, development and above all capitalistic effectiveness and with this related conditions for emerging (springing up) of new modern risks as mechanisms of assuring security – including educational fields.
In this way quality assurance and assessment is being thematised as attempt to regulate and (re)establish educational certainty. The rationality of political economy and (new) liberalism are the driving forces of structuring a range of rationalities in the conceptualisation of quality. These rationalities, in their inter-relationships, structure further policies and practices of establishing and assuring quality and consequently their appropriate discourses.
Discourse analysis of quality assurance and assessment in education indicates emergence of quality as total quality management which constitutes regulative mechanisms of the new liberalism. The analysis also illustrates that the requirement for total quality management has been intertwined in the educational field in various ways. It may therefore be concluded that the existing rationalities and practices still do operate, however, in specific conceptualisations of quality assurance and assessment one may also notice re-considerations and shifts of dominant rationalities towards different (hybrid) practices and quality elements, as well in some cases already towards new emergent rationalities which are not only observed in education but also in the wider society.