Capillary Discourses, Fissure Points, and Tacitly Confessing the Self: Foucault’s Later Work and Educational Research

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This article draws on Foucault’s later work to consider in an exploratory but specific way how that work can inform educational research. It introduces the concepts of capillary discourses and fissure points to show, by way of example, how a regime of truth such as neoliberalism shapes lifelong learning theory, the pedagogy of individualized, self-directed learning in a lifelong learning program, and ultimately a participant’s identity. Capillary discourses facilitate the flow of beliefs and procedures associated with specific regimes of truth. However, because of these discourses’ permeability, discursive flow can break down to reveal fissure points or opportunities for resistance, which can lead to what Foucault called eventalization. Through an analysis of participant interviews and program materials, we identified how fissure points created opportunities for resistance that could offer ways to begin to account for power relation dynamics, including symmetries and contradictions of practice, and to begin to think about the nature of interaction and what it means for participants.