Disciplining the Disciplined? ‘Culture of Confession’ in Academic Discourse in Poland

  • Helena Ostrowicka
  • Justyna Spychalska-Stasiak
Keywords: academic discourse, confession, Foucault, government by the truth, academic ethos


The article consists of two major parts: theoretical-methodological and empirical. It begins with introducing the theoretical background of Foucault’s confessing society concept. The concept explores the functional relationship between academic discourse and confession the aim of which is to acquire data, information and knowledge about the characteristics and states of the subjects. The second part of the paper presents the results of the analysis of ‘the practices of confession’ in the current academic discourse in Poland. The empirical material comprises texts published in the monthly periodical Forum Akademickie. The studies provided answers to four fundamental questions: Who confesses? What is the object of confession? What is the form of the confession? Who/what encourages the confession? In conclusion, the authors reflect on what kind of ‘truth’ about the university is produced by academic confessions. The study shows that academic discourse co-creates the ‘culture of confession’ in public statements about the Academics’ biographies, choices and career plans, by revealing the ‘secrets’ of scientific work. The mechanisms of the production of ‘the truth’ about university work in two areas: in the relation of scientists to society and in relations between the Academics.