Critical studies in/of/beyond neoliberalism
Researchers in the Neoliberalism cluster analyse how various processes of individualisation, marketization, deregulation at the level of capital and re-regulation, and responsibilization at the level of the citizen, are transforming the landscape of social change in contemporary society, and the future of political resistance.
We begin from the observation that during the first decade of the twenty-first century, actors in various fields of public policy and social life began ‘responding’ to a complex new set of economic and political conditions, and articulating new kinds of discourses about the (im)possibilities of personal and collective agency.
We are interested in how such processes are developing in the spheres of education, environmental policy and activism, immigration and asylum, race and ethnicity, elderly social care and neighbourhood regeneration and engagement. In particular, we are working to theorise how neoliberalism gets articulated in situ through complex interactions between ideas, discourses, materials and institutional structures, political techniques and technologies, and performative action. However, we also seek to understand the multifarious ways in which resistance to the new logic is accomplished, and to articulate the values that are enacted within this circulation of ideas, policy, practice and performance.
We are a diverse group, with research informed by critical theory, Foucauldian theories of discourse and governmentality, science and technology studies, actor-network- theory, ontological politics and empirical philosophy. Although our particular methods vary, we are collectively interested in both everyday and material accounts of change, practice and resistance. The group ultimately has an ambition to produce theoretical innovations for explaining the relationship between these wider processes of change, the role and possibilities of policy making (broadly defined) and the future of political resistance.
Education and Critical Public Politics
Education is being dramatically transformed through complex constellations of policies, professional practices and cultural discourses that are often referred to simply as ‘neoliberalism’. Social scientists and philosophers have observed these processes as matters of theoretical concern for over three decades, in the UK and more widely across Europe, the US and Australasia. While for some this has created new opportunities of professional development, for others it has led to increasing experiences of alienation and disempowerment.
One purpose of our research is therefore to offer a coherent analysis of how ongoing processes of neoliberalisation and the present crisis of economic recession are impacting upon the professional activities and identities of teachers throughout the sector, and reshaping intellectual and political subjectivities amongst students.
Critical research into the politics and economics of education is clearly vital for informing any interventions into policy, practice and discourse in this context. However, many important traditions of educational thought and inquiry have themselves become marginalised and depoliticised through these very processes. There is also a considerable disconnect between official education discourse and policy and the critiques that are increasingly being made about their ambiguous effects on political life, democratic participation and social justice. The Education and Critical Public Politics cluster thus regards education as a major site for the exercise and accomplishment of state and economic power, on the one hand, and for the exercise of freedom, resistance and possibility on the other.
In addition to studying the conditions and possibilities of formal education, the Education and Critical Public Politics group seeks to work with educationalists practicing alternative forms of education outside these institutional frameworks.
In short, the group:
- tracks how ongoing processes of the neoliberalisation of education are impacting upon the work and professional identities of teachers throughout the sector
- supports critical social research into the politics of education in the UK and comparatively, including practitioner and participatory action research
- brings together teachers and students from a range of formal and informal educational groups to facilitate open dialogue on the organisation, purpose and future of UK education
- advances professional and public awareness of the history, importance and future of movements for critical and radical education in the UK and internationally
- organises workshops, seminars and resources on critical pedagogies, the sociology and politics of education, and critical educational philosophy for professionals at Aston University, other universities, and schools and colleges in the West Midlands region.
For more information, contact Dr Sarah Amsler (email@example.com
See further areas of research within the Sociology and Public Policy group