Topologies of desire: Fantasies and their symptoms in educational policy futures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article studies topological reflexivity in educational policy discourse, when policy is considered in terms of eradicating the distances involved and increasing mobility and commensurability. Topological reflexivity is critically evaluated from a Lacanian point of view as a form of political fantasy which structures reality within the coordinates of desire. The article also unpacks two prominent symptoms of fantasy – dislocation and paradoxical elements – that subvert the functioning of these very same fantasies. First, while heralding imminent fulfilment and the promise of pleasure in new learning environments, these discourses are also obliged to keep the object of desire at a certain distance. Second, while educational policy discourse is founded on subjective autonomy and a freedom to develop learning environments, it implicitly requires teachers and schools to implement new learning environments and to take pleasure in doing so. Attempts to grapple with these symptoms of fantasy take the form of denying not only the repetition inherent in such discourses, but also the othering of teachers who express resistance to such changes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Educational Research Journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • educational policy
  • learning environments
  • Psychoanalytic theory
  • school architecture

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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