ABSTRACT. This article problematizes the educational practice of action competence. This practice is said to be a way to empower students, making them willing and able to genuinely engage in environmental issues. The aim is to show how the notion of action competence culturally shapes certain kinds of desirable and undesirable subjects, i.e., defining who fits in as the child to entrust the future to, and who becomes the child at risk. The targets for analysis are five texts promoting teaching for action competence in environmental education. The article analyses responsibilization of the child; namely, how the notion of action competence inscribes what is to be acted on, experienced, and felt. The analysis focuses on how practices and emotions are cultivated and what kinds of subjects are made up as action competent. The results illuminate the ideal action-competent child as participating genuinely, having authentic experiences, and producing feelings as empowerment, empathy, and optimism, but s/he is also well planned and reasonable. This means that the abjected Other, the one in need of changing his/her way of living, is the powerless, pessimistic, and/or spontaneous subject. The article discusses how these standards for practical and emotional skills (re)produce social patterns in terms of race and social class. pp. 95–112

Keywords: educational practice; action competence; emotion; responsibilization

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Faculty of Education and Society,
Malmö University, Sweden

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