Bizarro Democracy: Education Reform and the Redefinition of Democratic Practice in Chicago
Taylor, Kendall Alan
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Bizarro Democracy: Neoliberal Education and the Redefinition of Democratic Practice in Chicago Author: Kendall Taylor This dissertation analyses the cultural politics surrounding neoliberal education reform. In particular it seeks to understand how proponents of education reform have used the normative concepts of democracy to support policies which have anti-democratic outcomes and how this use has influenced local democratic practices. Using Chicago as the site of study, I draw upon the work of Critical Discourse Analysis and Citizenship Studies to suggest that the meaning of “text” should be expanded to include both linguistic elements as well as policy design and implementation, administrative practices, spatial organization and any other material or symbolic action which implicates the populations in the relations of power. I identify five such texts which serve as separate but interrelated theoretical lenses: the normative meaning of democracy, the spatiality of neoliberal democracy, the discourses of neoliberal democracy, Chicago’s integral state, and the strategic uses of normative democracy in counter-hegemonic movements. I argue that the logics of neoliberalism are shifting the meanings and practices of democracy and that this new democratic understanding, connected as it is to the creation of anti-democratic spaces and practices, is losing its historic anti-hegemonic power as a tool for emancipation and resistance. In the current neoliberal moment, democratic ideals are becoming subsumed under the current rationality and, as such, operate as a scaffold for legitimating neoliberal reforms. However, this moment also represents a chance for change, for a new direction, and a new understanding of our common need for democracy.
SubjectDemocratic Education, Neoliberalism, Democracy