Skip to main content

Analysing the Matter Flows in Schools Using Deleuze’s Method

A non-reductive analysis of school would show us that when all is said and done, the ‘matter’ that is tooled behind its walls is doubtless less an affair of teaching, of information, or of power, than a libidinal matter that is constitutive of the collective power of labour, and which implies a ‘superego’ investment of professional roles and hierarchical functions.

Guattari (2016, p. 44).


Using Deleuzian theory for educational research and practice has become an increasingly popular activity (e.g., Cole 2011). However, there are many theoretical complexities to the straightforward application of Deleuze to the educational context. For example, the ‘new materialism’ that Deleuze refers to in the 1960s takes its inspiration from Spinoza, and is an emancipatory (and very human) project. Contrariwise, the ‘new materialism’ of the present moment is frequently applied to educational research and practice specifically as a way out of anthropocentric limits and enclosure. This paper explores the combined forces of humanism and naturalism which are at work in Deleuze’s ‘new materialism’, as type of ‘more-than-human’ emancipation method derived from Bergson and Nietzsche; it is a mode of overcoming human limits, which fully takes into account the connections to and with the non-human world and the ecological consequences of human action. This paper will draw out the specific consequences for educational research and practice in schools of the ‘vitalist-nihilism’ we may derive from Bergson and Nietzsche to analyse matter flows as they enter, mingle with, and exit schools.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  • Barad, K. 2003. Posthuman performativity: Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs: Journal of Women and Society 28(3): 801–831.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bergson, H. 1935. The two sources of morality and religion (trans: Audra, R.A., and Brereton, C.). London: Macmillan Press.

  • Bergson, H. 1965. The creative mind (trans: Andison, M.L.). Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & Co.

  • Bergson, H. 1988. Matter and memory (trans: Paul, N.M., and Palmer, W.S.). New York: Zone Books. Original published 1888.

  • Braidotti, R. 2013. The posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cole, D.R. 2011. Educational life-forms: Deleuzian teaching and teaching practice. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Cole, D.R. 2013. Traffic jams: Analysing everyday life using the immanent materialism of Deleuze and Guattari. New York: Punctum Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cole, D.R. 2014. Capitalised education: An immanent materialist account of Kate Middleton. Winchester: Zero Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cole, D.R., and P. Hager. 2010. Learning-practice: The ghosts in the education machine. Education Inquiry 1(1): 21–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cole, D.R., and M. Mirzaei Rafe. 2017. Conceptual ecologies for educational research through Deleuze, Guattari and Whitehead. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 30(9): 849–862.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cole, D.R., and M. Mirzaei Rafe. 2018. Positioning whitehead as a mean to enhance social justice in education. Interchange 49(3): 377–391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cole, D.R., and P. Throssell. 2008. Epiphanies in action: Teaching and learning in synchronous harmony. The International Journal of Learning 15(7): 175–184.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coole, D., and S. Frost. 2010. Introducing the new materialisms. In New materialisms: Ontology, agency, and politics, ed. D. Coole and S. Frost, 1–47. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Deleuze, G. 1983. Nietzsche and philosophy (trans: Tomlinson, H.). London: The Athlone Press.

  • Deleuze, G. 1988a. Spinoza. Practical philosophy (trans: Hurley, R.). San Francisco: City Light Books.

  • Deleuze, G. 1988b. Bergsonism (trans: Tomlinson, H.). New York: Zone Books.

  • Deleuze, G. 1992. Expressionism in philosophy: Spinoza (trans: Joughin, M.). New York: Zone Books.

  • Deleuze, G. 1994. Difference and repetition (trans: Patton, P.). London: Athlone Press.

  • Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari. 1983. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia (trans: Hurley, R., Steen, M., and Lane, H.R.). London: The Athlone Press.

  • Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari. 1988. A thousand plateaus: Schizophrenia and capitalism (trans: Massumi, B.). London: The Athlone Press.

  • Grosz, E. 2011. Life, matter, and other variations. Philosophy Today 55: 17–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grosz, E. 2015. Deleuze and the Nonhuman Turn: An interview with Elizabeth Grosz. In Deleuze and the non/human, ed. J. Roffe and H. Stark, 17–25. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Guattari, F. 1996. The three ecologies. London: Athlone Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Guattari, F. 2016. Lines of flight: For another world of possibilities (trans: Goffey, A.). London: Bloomsbury.

  • Heidegger, M. 1996. Being and time: A translation of Sein und Zeit (trans: Stambaugh, J.). Albany, NY: SUNY press.

  • Kant, I. 2004. Immanuel Kant: Prolegomena to any future metaphysics: That will be able to come forward as science: With selections from the critique of pure reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the social. An introduction to actor-network theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Le Guin, U. 1971. The lathe of heaven. London: Orion Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marx, K. 1887. Capital: A critique of political economy. Volume I. Book one: The process of production of capital (trans: Moore, S., and Aveling, E., ed.: Engels, F.). Moscow, USSR: Progress Publishers. Accessed 13 Feb 2017.

  • Marx, K., and F. Engels. 1969/1848. Manifesto of the communist party. In Selected works, vol. 1, ed. K Marx and F. Engels, pp. 98–137. Moscow: Progress Publishers. Accessed 13 Feb 2017.

  • Newell, P., and M. Paterson. 2010. Climate capitalism: Global warming and the transformation of the global economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Nietzsche, F. 1974. The gay science: With a prelude in rhymes and an appendix of songs (trans: Kaufmann, W.). New York: Vintage Books.

  • Semetsky, I. 2011. Re-symbolization of the self. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Sokolowski, R. 2000. Introduction to phenomenology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stengers, I. 2009. Thinking with Deleuze and Whitehead: A double test. In Deleuze, Whitehead, Bergson: Rhizomatic connections, ed. K. Robinson, 28–44. Chicago: University of South Dakota.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Whitehead, A.N. 1967. Science and the modern world. New York, NY: The Free Press. Originally published in 1925.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to David R. Cole.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cole, D.R. Analysing the Matter Flows in Schools Using Deleuze’s Method. Stud Philos Educ 38, 229–240 (2019).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Vitalism
  • Nihilism
  • Deleuze
  • Bergson
  • Nietzsche
  • New materialism
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Matter flows