The ambivalence of the psychosocial in Norwegian education. A policy document analysis
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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In this article, I explore the central characteristics of the psychosocial as a field of knowledge in Norwegian education policy and the ways in which these characteristics are conditioned by their constituting social structures and historical contexts. This is achieved through a policy document analysis. Even though the psychosocial is habitually employed in educational discourses in Norway, its content often remains unclear. In the analysis, I derive three key dimensions of ambivalence from the documents. First, the psychosocial is ambivalent in its scope, as it oscillates between the entirety of the pupil’s emotional and relational life and the specific phenomenon of bullying. Second, it appears ambivalent in relation to aspects of accountability, as it simultaneously demands responsibility from society as a whole and from specific groups of professionals. Lastly, the psychosocial is ambivalent in the way it asserts its relative and subjective dimension, while also claiming objective and rigid frameworks of control and measurement. Viewed from a broader perspective, I demonstrate that the ambivalences surrounding the psychosocial correspond with the binary concepts of the liquid modernity and the new solidity, as conceived by Per Bjørn Foros and Arne Johan Vetlesen.