Separatist biopolitics: the dual discourse of the vocational education policy in Israel

Mirit Haybi Barak, Avihu Shoshana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers a critical discursive analysis of the Israeli Ministry of Education’s renewed interest in vocational education. This analysis reveals three discursive practices for promoting vocational education among key participants in the field: the rhetorical transition from ‘vocational education’ to ‘technological education’; the disregard for the tracking involved in vocational education; the government’s refusal to collect or publish statistics on the ethnic and class composition of vocational schools; and a dual discourse that refers to vocational education students as ‘at-risk youth’ whose needs are minimal, to guarantee them a ‘routine’ life (‘being a person’) based on the morality of low expectations. Technological education, is described as populated by students who are the elite of excellence, promising them a rich life, an open future, and the acquisition of ‘tomorrow’s professions.’ Against this background, we proffer the term ‘separatist biopolitics’ to characterise the contemporary vocational education policy in Israel. Separatist biopolitics, offering divergent positive results (‘the good life’) to disadvantaged students (vocational education students) and elitist students (technological education students), is a tool for population management. The concept of separatist biopolitics also proposes adopting a critical reading of the vocational education policy to promote the consideration of alternative educational solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-314
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Vocational Education and Training
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Israel Science Foundation, Grant Number: 1253/17.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 The Vocational Aspect of Education Ltd.


  • Israel
  • Vocational education
  • biopolitics
  • class
  • educational policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Separatist biopolitics: the dual discourse of the vocational education policy in Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this