University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 20 Feb 2015: Social exclusion discourse as a governance strategy in student welfare services within a vocational school context (Perttula)

Start date: Feb 20, 2015 01:00 PM

End date: Feb 20, 2015 04:00 PM

Location: Kokkolan yliopistokeskus Chydenius

Rauno Perttula
Rauno Perttula
M.Soc.Sc. Rauno Perttula defends his doctoral dissertation in Social Work ”Syrjäytymispuhe hallinnan strategiana opiskelijahuollon sosiaalityössä”. Opponent VTT Erja Saurama (University of Helsinki) and custos Professor Aila-Leena Matthies (University of Jyväskylä).

Social exclusion discourse as a governance strategy in student welfare services within a vocational school context .

The dissertation critically evaluates the topical discourse on young people’s social exclusion in the context of vocational education. First, the study investigates how the social exclusion discourse related to youth education, as a manifestation of political governance, determines the institutional role of student welfare services and expertise in school social work. Second, the apparatus and mechanisms that govern professional practices in student welfare services are examined. At the third theoretical level, the analysis focuses on the various alternatives and ethical conditions of implementing professional social work in student welfare services.

The principal theoretical foundation of the study relies on texts regarding the analytics of governance by Michel Foucault and researchers influenced by him. Other theories applied in the study include actor–network theory and the sociology of dispositif (i.e. apparatus). The research material consists of discourses on social exclusion in newspaper articles and administrative texts, as well as of stories written by student welfare services staff using the role-playing method (or empathy-based stories, MEBS).

Foucault’s critical discourse analysis was adapted for the study, and further research methods, in addition to MEBS, include the tools of rhetoric and argumentation theory, as well as frame analysis. The analysis of social exclusion discourse reveals an apparatus of power and governance, which is conceptualised as an educational policy dispositif. Around youth education, administrative practices have accordingly emerged in which educational and social issues merge under the pressure of new public governance principles.

This colonises social work’s professional autonomy in student welfare services and reduces its possibilities to support adolescents according to their actual needs. The study shows that the starting point for professional social work in student welfare services implies a critical, reflective approach that enables separation from the regime of governance and a more holistic consideration of young people’s needs for assistance.

Keywords: social exclusion, governance, school social work

Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research, ISSN 0075-4625; 517, ISBN 978-951-39-6075-9 (nid.), ISBN 978-951-39-6076-6 (PDF) Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä, 2015, 119 p.
Press copies: 040 805 3825,

Further information:
Rauno Perttula,, puh. 044 263 4428 / 044 725 0428
Pr officer  Liisa Harjula, puh. 040 805 4403,

More information

Rauno Perttula
044-2634428 / 044-7250428