23 SES 09 D, Privatization
Parallel Paper Session
Developments in education policy and provision within the UK and many other Western countries over the last twenty years have radically altered the concept of ‘public education’. Despite the scale and complexity of change there tends to be a reliance on the simplistic binary opposition between ‘public’ and ‘private’, resulting in discourses of ‘privatisation’. The politics of education, then, is often presented as a battle between left and right, the state and the market. In this representation, the public and private spheres are neatly aligned on either side of the line of battle and social justice is commonly seen as the prerogative of the public sphere. This paper challenges this representation.
It shows how the language of what counts as public and private in education is historically specific, culturally contingent and ideologically loaded. The paper primarily draws upon the previous research of the authors that have examined a range of education policies and practices on the organisation and provision of UK schooling, to demonstrate that ‘public’ and ‘private’ are not simply opposites and how the creation of a singular binary divide creates a number of conceptual problems. In particular, it focuses on the location and processes of decision-making that help shape the education (school) system – examining the role of parents, teachers, governors, local authorities, national government, democracy, businesses, etc, and the extent to which their decisions and actions are representative of the public and/or private spheres. The paper proposes that these decisions and their outcomes are best considered along a continua of different public:private dimensions – such as ‘funding’, ‘access’, ‘governance’ and ‘activity’.
Utilising the work of Nancy Fraser and re-examining the assumptions about social justice the paper goes on to argue that social justice can be conceptualised in ways that also render a simple division between public good and private interests highly problematic. The paper concludes that if we are to enhance our understanding of the relationship between social justice and education we need to move beyond the public:private dichotomy. It also argues that this conceptual development is useful in mapping and comparing 'public education' across Europe, and how these help determine levels of social justice in these countries.
Power, S. & Frandji, D. (2010) ‘Education markets, the new politics of recognition and the increasing fatalism toward inequality’, Journal of Education Policy, 25, 3, 385-396 Power, S., Curtis, A., Whitty, G. & Edwards, T. (2010) ‘Private education and disadvantage: the experiences of assisted place holders’ International Studies in Sociology of Education, 20, 1, 23-38 Taylor, C. (2001) 'The geography of choice and diversity in the ‘new’ secondary education market of England', Area, 33, 4, 368-381 Gorard, S., Taylor, C. and Fitz, J. (2003) 'Schools, Markets and Choice Policies', Routledge Falmer, London Fraser, N. (2005) ‘Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World’, New Left Review 36: 69–88
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