Governing emotions: Citizenship, neuroscience, and the education of youth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (SciVal)
648 Downloads (Pure)


Schools are one of many sites to incorporate emotional literacy into their institutional agenda in recent years. Alongside broader changes in social, economic and political practice, schools have welcomed emotional education as a necessary element in the training of young people. In 2007, the government introduced Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) to secondary schools across England and Wales. The aim of the programme is to integrate emotional literacy into the secondary school curriculum, following the successful implementation of SEAL at primary level. In this paper, I argue that rather than being about the encouragement of happy, content or well-adjusted individuals, it is, more crucially, about a new form of citizenship. Forms of self-government predicated on emotional management have been made possible since the widespread popularisation of neuroscientific understandings of emotions. By tracing the transposition of these ideas from popular brain science to education policy and finally to the curricula delivered via SEAL, I suggest that educating emotions has become central to the way citizenship is currently being defined for young people. By bringing together recent insights from geographies of education, emotion and citizenship, I suggest that the relationship between governmentality, education and youth requires closer critical attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-152
Number of pages13
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


  • citizenship
  • emotions
  • education
  • youth
  • governmentality
  • neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Governing emotions: Citizenship, neuroscience, and the education of youth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this