In this paper we identify resources drawn on from Foucault that are distinctive and pertinent for specific forms of analyses of what is happening in the turn to confessional practices in education and lifelong learning. We identify that confessional practices have come to shape and govern the Western world; they have emerged across the practices of the human sciences and are now intrinsic to our everyday lives and understandings of ourselves. Education and learning have a key position in promulgating confessional practices as a new social norm. They are key as perpetrators of this new kind fashioning of ourselves as human kinds in a particular way.
We describe a regime and apparatus of power of education and lifelong learning which has confession intrinsic to its maintenance and productive force. Confession is described as technology, conduit of power, operating one person in relation to another, and dominating today in the production of specific forms of confessing people. We call this ‘strategy’. Within this regime, in education and policy circles and more widely, we identify a shift in the talk accompanying and surrounding the emergence of these techniques: whereas before educators and policy makers talked about education, they now talk of learning. Lifelong learning and the learning society, the knowledge economy, society and Knowledge Age are themes that have come to dominate the texts emanating from the cloistered grounds of governmental offices and intra-national agencies. The question remains therefore of where this strategy takes us in terms of its wider social and political effects in western societies.
The paper identifies and explores other previous educational and lifelong learning research that has considered confessional practices to consider whether or not these find answers to the question of what is happening today'