Transcendent Friendship: The Potential of Foucault’s Ascesis to Subvert School Gender Regimes and Facilitate Learning

  • James R. GilliganEmail author
Part of the Queer Studies and Education book series (QSTED)


Foucault’s theories regarding friendship (or philia), homosexual ascesis, and queer culture may be useful in reforming the institutional gender regimes that permeate academic environments, especially those of secondary schools, where hegemonic masculinity often establishes a hierarchy that affects power relationships, academic disciplines, and extracurricular activities. The epistemic value of friendship has the potential to counter these potent and oppressive school gender regimes that operate as an element of the hidden curriculum and dictate behavior ranging from the expression (and suppression) of emotion to pedagogical methods. A review of selected empirical research demonstrates the effects of implementing pedagogical and extracurricular strategies that promote friendship as a crucial component of culturally responsive curricula. Considered through a queer theoretical lens, Foucault’s complex theory of homosexual ascesis may be seen as a counternarrative to restrictive school gender regimes. It can provide a conceptual foundation for practical strategies that will fortify students’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Consequently, promoting friendship as both a pedagogical and social scaffold has the potential to deconstruct oppressive gender regimes, create more equitable and socially just academic environments, and cultivate enjoyable teaching and learning experiences that occur within collaborative, communal contexts.


School gender regimes Hegemonic masculinity Philia Friendship Pedagogy Curriculum Extracurricular Happiness 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

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