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Mathematics, capitalism and biosocial research

Pais, Alexandre (2018) Mathematics, capitalism and biosocial research. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 101 (3). pp. 373-386. ISSN 0013-1954

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Abstract

In my previous work, I criticised studies within the sociopolitical turn for disavowing a comprehension of schools as places of capitalist production. Here, I extend this critique to what is being flagged as a new turn in educational research. I am referring to biosocial research, particularly in the way it is coupled with new materialist and more than human philosophies in the work of Elizabeth de Freitas. I use elements from Marxian theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis to explore the concomitances between mathematics and capitalism, showing how both mathematics and capital need to suture the subject in order to thrive. Biosocial research epitomises this drive towards automation and totality, and, notwithstanding de Freitas’ attempts to rescue it from the logic of control, I will argue that agent-centred intentions dismiss the underlying workings of capital as a real abstraction. I do so by engaging with elements of Deleuze’s philosophy, showing how the more than human frame in which de Freitas’ biosocial research rests contradicts her own perception of how biosocial research can be rescued for inclusive purposes.

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