The invention of personal skills: Resources and persuasive effects of a distinctive mechanism of contemporary Italian educational policy


  • Daniel Boccacci University of Granada



skills/competencies, personalized education, Catholicism, curricular politics, individual attitudes


This paper analyzes and deepens the concept of “personal competencies” related to the proposal of the Indicazioni Nazionali (2004), a fundamental document in the complex normative argumentation of contemporary Italian educational policy that defines the curricular framework of the Italian compulsory school system. Within the theoretical framework developed by T.S. Popkewitz, the analysis highlights the resource used by the actors who have generated it based on the Catholic theory of the “persona integral” (“whole person”). This theory is conscientiously used to harmonize social expectations about individual and national competitiveness with the accompanying enhancement of the sacredness of the person. The deepening of this construct of symbiosis allows us to highlight it as a strategic device within an ecosystem of discursive actions that are shown as legitimized by the Church, and linked to the salvific-business dream of the former Prime Minister of the Italian Republic Silvio Berlusconi. In concrete terms, the discursive actions are linked in turn to the economic policy of recent decades, as shown in the curriculum reform of Minister Moratti (2004), together with the latest curriculum proposals (2007 and 2012) by governments of opposing colors. Finally, at a more general sociological level, the analysis we provide manifests the political educational use of a new neo-corporate subjectivity that not only saturates utilitarian qualities. We conclude by arguing that the analysis of all these applications, while highlighting the persuasive force of the analyzed construct, strategically forgets the social and civic complexity to open up the problem of the possible effects of developing in the Italian educational system anti-democratic conservatism and the masking of the economic hegemony that sustains the completely discursive apparatus.


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Author Biography

Daniel Boccacci, University of Granada

Docente numerario de Historia y Literatura Italiana de enseñanza secundaria en Italia. En 2014 fue profesor contratado en Sociología de los procesos culturales y de la comunicación y colaboró en los cursos siguientes en la docencia de Sociología de la Educación en la Universidad de Parma, donde es miembro permanente del Centro Interdepartamental de Investigación Social (CIRS). Ha participado como ponente en varios seminarios, entre ellos: La Profesión Docente. Figuras de la Vida Cotidiana, Tramas Invisibles (Universidad de Parma, 11 de octubre de 2011). El pasado 5 de junio de 2021 presentó una comunicación en Reinventing Education (Second International Conference) de la prestigiosa revista italiana Scuola Democratica (Universidad de Cagliari, 2-5 de junio de 2021). Ha editado un volumen sobre educación, cultura y tecnología y ha escrito algunos ensayos relacionados con estos ámbitos, como Il Laboratorio “Il filo di Arianna”. Un’Esperienza tra le Nuove Frontiere dell’Apprendimento (en La Società degli Individui, 2012). Actualmente ultima la presentación de su tesis doctoral en ciencias de la educación en la Universidad de Granada.



How to Cite

Boccacci, D. (2022). The invention of personal skills: Resources and persuasive effects of a distinctive mechanism of contemporary Italian educational policy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (127).