Research Project

Violence, force and discipline: biopolitical body practices in schools in late socialism

School and children are not the terms to be associated with violence at first sight. The socialist dictatorships in Eastern Europe were no different cases in this respect: physical violence against pupils was strictly penalized and the authorities tried hard to restrict bullying amongst schoolchildren. Nonetheless, exactly this feature makes the study of schools interesting for exploring the question of violence during socialism: schools as institutions of inducing social-cultural norms and establishing various disciplinary orders are also institutions which try to introduce various orders of containing violence.

The proposed research will investigate, based on the cases of primary and secondary schools in late socialist Hungary, how educational authorities and school management attempted to discipline, control and contain various forms of physical violence. It will investigate cases when the usage of physical violence was considered extreme and abnormal paying attention both to violence committed by pupils or children in order to identify limits and norms of legitimate violent conduct. This approach will be completed by examination of the modes of normalizing violence by studying educational programs and guidelines in schools to establish the marks of justified violence either as appropriate disciplinary methods or ways of conflict resolution amongst pupils. This analysis will turn the attention towards the gendered and ethnicized nature of violence in identifying proper male and female behavior and transcribing excesses of violence to mentalities of ethnic minorities, particularly the Roma. Finally, the investigation of school violence bears broader implications for the studying of socialist dictatorships: as school managements cooperated on an everyday basis with various parents` councils, their collaboration in containing violence provides access to basic social and cultural concepts in contemporary understandings of violence.

Research Proposal: PDF icon Research_Apor.pdf