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How an Empty Chair at School Becomes an Empty Claim: A Discussion of Absence From School and Its Causality

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Interventions targeting absence from school justify themselves with the claim that absence causes negative effects or prevents good effects. I argue that these are empty claims. I propose that absence as a cause makes sense in two ways: (1) in the context of prevention, if we take into consideration our expectations of what would have taken place, had the child gone to school, and what did take place for the child instead, and (2) in the context of responses to absence. Both interpretations lead to a conception where absence, instead of being a direct cause, rather accrues consequences from our responses to it. I use these alternatives to argue that responses to absence justified with the empty claim contribute to the results that the literature has so far claimed absence to have. Absence is not the problem, it may only be the sign of one.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Educational Research
Number of pages14
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Mar 2021

    Research areas

  • Absence, Absence from school, causality, critique, expectation, philosophy, prevention

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