The (absent) politics of neo-liberal education policy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Despite its ideological saturation, recent neo-liberal education policy has been deeply
depoliticising in the sense of reducing properly political concerns to matters of technical
efficiency. This depoliticisation is reflected in the hegemony of a managerial discourse
and the decontestation of terms like ‘quality’ and ‘effectiveness’, as well as in the
apparent consensus around the necessity of particular practices, such as the adoption of
‘standards’ and the implementation of high-stakes testing regimes. The reduction of the
political to the technical is not only anti-political but also anti-democratic, with violence
often unrecognised behind appeals to consensus, commonsense and ‘rationality’. This
study draws on the work of political theorists like Mouffe and Rancière to critique the
depoliticisation reflected in recent Australian federal government recent education policy, particularly its notion of an ‘education revolution’ that pre-empts politics through a
utopian harmonisation of difference and a reduction of the political to the merely technical and instrumental. This article concludes with some potential starting points for
crossing, or traversing, fantasies in education which, along with a recognition of the
inescapability of social and political antagonisms, could serve as a basis for a renewed
emphasis on the importance of the political in education policy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'The (absent) politics of neo-liberal education policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this