Class, capital and education in this neoliberal/ neoconservative period.


Hill, D. 2006. Class, capital and education in this neoliberal/ neoconservative period. Information for Social Change. 23.
TitleClass, capital and education in this neoliberal/ neoconservative period.
AuthorsHill, D.

The current neoliberal project, the latest stage of the capitalist project, is to reshape the public’s understanding of the purposes of public institutions and apparatuses, such as schools, universities, libraries. In schools, intensive testing of pre-designed curricula (high stakes testing) and accountability schemes (such as the ‘failing schools’ and regular inspection regime that somehow only penalizes working class schools) are aimed at restoring schools (and further education and universities) to what dominant elites – the capitalist class – perceive to be their "traditional role" of producing passive worker/citizens with just enough skills to render themselves useful to the demands of capital.
In the US and the UK and throughout other parts of the globe (Hill, 2005b; and Hill et al, 2006), policy developments such as the 1988 Education Reform Act, passed by the Conservatives and extended/deepened by New Labour, and in the USA, the Bush ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ of 2001 have nationalized and intensified patterns of control, conformity and (increasing) hierarchy. These, and other policies such as the Patriot Act in the USA that permits secret services to spy on/access the library borrowing habits of readers, have deepened the logic and extent of neoliberal capital’s hold over education reforms, over public services. They are an attempt to both intimidate and to conform critical and alternative thinking.
In the US, such reforms include: the heavy involvement of educational management organizations (EMOs) as well as the introduction of voucher plans, charter schools, and other manifestations of the drive toward the effective privatization of public education. England and Wales, meanwhile, have endured the effective elimination of much comprehensive (all-intake, all-ability), public secondary schooling. Commercialization and marketization have led to school-based budgetary control, a ‘market’ in new types of state schooling, and the effective ‘selling off’ of state schools to rich and/or religious individuals or groups via the Academies
scheme. The influence of neoliberal ideology also led to the October 2005 proposals for state schools, which have historically fallen under the purview of democratically elected local school districts, to become independent ‘mini-businesses’ called ‘independent trust schools’ (Hill, 2006). Similar attempts at change have occurred throughout developed and developing countries (Hill, 2005a; and Hill et al, 2006).
However, the impact of the ‘New Labour’ government in Britain on society and our schools and universities, and the impacts of the Bush Administration in the US make it impossible to understand the current crises in schools and in democracy solely in terms of neoliberalism. We need also to consider the impact of neoconservatism.
In this article, I want to provide an overview of how those agendas in education play themselves out in the UK, the USA and worldwide.

PublisherInformation for social change.
JournalInformation for Social Change
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Deposited22 Apr 2010
Output statusPublished
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