Behind the idea of disturbing behaviour

Maija Lanas and Kristiina Brunila’s article Bad behavior in school: discursive approach (2019) was accepted by the British Journal of Sociology of Education.

Disturbing, problematic, or challenging student behaviour is said to be among the greatest challenges facing today’s school life. However, despite the apparent commonsensicalness of the issue, there is no commonly agreed upon definition for such events, and there is often very thin analysis of what actually becomes disturbed, challenged, or problematised in such instances.

In the article, disturbing behaviour is seen as a discursive practice that produces reality; it is a historically and socioculturally formed coming-together of various intersecting power-related discourses that make claims about individuals and contexts. Informed by poststructural approaches, this theoretical paper looks at how ideas of disturbing behaviour come to be formed within the discursive environment of school.

The paper argues that behind the idea of disturbing behaviour are the ideas of a normal developmental course and an idealised student, as well as increasing emphasis on management and measurement in school.