University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Neoliberalism and Beyond: The Possibilities of a Social Justice Agenda?

Olssen, Mark (2017) Neoliberalism and Beyond: The Possibilities of a Social Justice Agenda? In: Policy and Inequality in Education. Education Policy & Social Inequality (1). Springer, Singapore, pp. 41-71. ISBN 978-981-10-4037-5

[img] Text
Neoliberalism and Beyond (whole ebook).pdf - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (2MB)


The paper will start with a short account of neoliberalism where I will survey the arguments offered in support of neoliberal reforms made initially by James Buchanan and the Public Choice School. Many scholars, especially those coming from a poststructuralist or post-Marxist position, see neoliberalism, as Troeger (2014, p. 1) has put it, “as a kind of bogeyman-placeholder for all that is wrong with the predominant political and economic system in the West”. In this paper I intend to ask whether some of the criticisms made of the old welfare state by neoliberals like Buchanan were not justified, and then seek to offer a more nuanced account assessing both the costs and benefits of neoliberal policies and strategies as they affect both higher education and society. Specifically, I will ask to what extent neoliberal orthodoxies are compatible with policies promoting equity and social justice? And what sort of social justice might this be? The extent to which neoliberal strategies are themselves adaptable, are undergoing change, have differential effects in relation to different policy arenas, or can be rendered congruent with social justice agendas, are the broader general questions I will then seek to address. In order to do this, I will initially present a survey of a number of key policy domains within the higher education field to be able to ascertain which specific policy areas contribute to increased inequality and frustrate social equity. This will underscore an important point that while at one level neoliberalism constitutes a general policy framework, its individual technologies must be seen to act variably and with different effects, not all of which are necessarily negative, in relation to different issues and domains. Indeed, I will argue that it is at least conceivable that a progressively orientated social democratic government could utilise some supply-side policy agendas and technologies to good effect. As an overarching policy framework, however, I will argue that neoliberalism as the agenda of free market economics is not likely to survive due to the very shortcomings that are now in the second decade of the twenty-first century becoming evident. By way of conclusion then, I will ask briefly what lies beyond neoliberalism as a broad policy framework? Is there a new settlement on the horizon?

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
Authors :
Editors :
Parker, Stephen
Gulson, Kalervo N.
Gale, Trevor
Date : 2017
DOI : 10.1007/978-981-10-4039-9_4
Uncontrolled Keywords : Higher Education; League Table; Disadvantaged Background; Public Choice Theory; Fund Council
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 18 Jul 2018 15:28
Last Modified : 19 Jul 2018 07:59

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800