Talkin’ ‘bout a revolution: the social, political, and fantasmatic logics of education policy

Matthew Clarke* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides a critical analysis of the Australian government’s education revolution policy as promulgated in the media release document, Quality Education: The Case for an Education Revolution in our Schools. It seeks to problematize the government’s claim to marry quality and equity, via an analysis of the discursive strategies of the Australian government’s revolution talk. My analysis draws on the work of political theorists Jason Glynos and David Howarth and their synthesis of key ideas from Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory into a framework of explanatory ‘logics.’ This framework provides conceptual tools for conducting critical policy analysis, including: characterizing a discursive regime on a synchronic plane; accounting for its constitution, reproduction, and/or subversion on a diachronic plane; and explaining the ways in which it grips or seduces subjects at a nonrational level. Overall, the analysis of the education revolution in this paper demonstrates the value of this framework of explanatory logics for education policy analysis, in the process shedding some new light on the Australian government’s education revolution policy agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-191
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number2
Early online date4 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: Thanks are extended to my colleagues, Kalervo Gulson and Michael Michell, as well as four anonymous reviewers, for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


  • discourse/analysis
  • politics
  • neoliberalism
  • Australia


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