'Economics imperialism', education policy and educational theory

S. Allais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper examines how economics imperialism (the increasing colonization of other disciplines by neoclassical economics) has affected contemporary education policies. I suggest that an increasing preoccupation with education meeting the needs of the economy, together with the prevalence of economic concepts outside of economics, have contributed to the development of education policies which mimic economic ideas. The specific policies which it considers are outcomes-based qualifications frameworks, which are becoming increasingly prevalent internationally. I argue that in the main, outcomes-based qualifications frameworks can be seen as tools for creating or regulating education markets, and that their underpinning logic is the logic of neoclassical economics. I further argue that the educational ideas that are invoked in association with outcomes-based qualifications frameworks, and which have often been seen as progressive, or empowering, or anti-elitist, have commonalities with the tools of analysis of neoclassical economics. Specifically, ideas about knowledge and the curriculum which have traditionally been seen as progressive have an overemphasis on individuals, and underemphasis on structures. These underlying similarities have facilitated the process whereby education policy has been rewritten using the tools of neoclassical economics, enabling the description of neo-liberal policies in progressive terms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-274
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


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