Governing through parents: a genealogical enquiry of education policy and the construction of neoliberal subjectivities in England

Antonio Olmedo, Andrew Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

In this paper we explore the various spaces and sites through which the figure of the parent is summoned and activated to inhabit and perform market norms and practices in the field of education in England. Since the late 1970s successive governments have called on parents to enact certain duties and obligations in relation to the state. These duties include adopting and internalizing responsibility for all kinds of risks, liabilities and inequities formerly managed by the Keynesian welfare state. Rather than characterize this situation in terms of the ‘hollowing of the state’, we argue that the role of the state includes enabling the functioning of the parent as a neoliberal subject so that they may successfully harness the power of the market to their own advantage and (hopefully) minimize the kinds of risk and inequity generated through a market-based, deregulated education system. In this paper we examine how parents in England are differently, yet similarly, compelled to embody certain market norms and practices as they navigate the field of education. Adopting genealogical enquiry and policy discourse analysis as our methodology, we explore how parents across three policy sites or spaces are constructed as objects and purveyors of utility and ancillaries to marketisation. This includes a focus on how parents are summoned as 1) consumers or choosers of education services; 2) governors and overseers of schools; and 3) producers and founders of schools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-589
JournalDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2016

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