1st Edition

Education and the Fantasies of Neoliberalism Policy, Politics and Psychoanalysis

By Matthew Clarke Copyright 2022
    202 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    202 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Education and the Fantasies of Neoliberalism revitalizes conversations about the nature and purpose of education in a global context characterized by concerns about quality and equity in education, reflecting wider economic and political anxieties around declining productivity and social inclusion.

    The book illustrates how Lacanian psychoanalytic theory offers a conceptual vocabulary for exposing and critiquing the fantasmatic nature of policy and practice, while foregrounding the tensions and contradictions they seek to conceal. Specifically, the book draws on ideas of lack, fantasy and desire from Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to gain insights into the contentious but disavowed politics of reform in education. The book builds on cutting-edge work in political and psychoanalytic theory to offer unique insights that challenge and contest the simplistic and often trivializing readings of education in contemporary media and political debates.

    Offering a novel perspective on education policy reform, this book will be of great interest to academics, researchers and post-graduate students in the fields of philosophy of education and educational policy and politics.



    Part 1 Policy, politics and psychoanalysis

    Introduction to Part 1

    1. The (absent) politics of neo-liberal education policy

    2. Talkin’ ‘bout a revolution: The social, political, and fantasmatic logics of education policy

    3. The sublime objects of education policy: Quality, equity and ideology

    Part 2 Psychosocial readings of teacher education

    Introduction to Part 2

    4. Dialectics and dilemmas: Psychosocial dimensions of ability grouping policy

    5.Heroes and villains: The insistence of the imaginary and the novice teacher’s need to believe

    6. Dialectics of development: Teacher identity formation in the interplay of ideal ego and ego ideal

    Part 3 Seeing education and policy through film

    Introduction to Part 3

    7. Education beyond reason and redemption: A detour through the death drive

    8. Eyes wide shut: The fantasies and disavowals of education policy



    Matthew Clarke is Professor of Education at York St John University and has taught and researched at universities in Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. His psychoanalytically informed work in critical policy studies offers unique and distinctive insights into recent developments in education.

    "Cutting to the depths of the psychic malaise infecting and perpetuated by contemporary education policy, Matthew Clarke’s Education and the Fantasies of Neoliberalism, brings sophisticated Lacanian psychoanalytic thought to bear on range of decisive educational issues. Showing how a proliferation of educational fantasies adorns a perversely superficial and ever-expanding global education orientation, Clarke provides a means of establishing firmer footing in educational policy critique. At once highly original in its theoretical applications and expertly focused in terms of its areas of exploration, this book is a substantial contribution to both educational theory and policy analysis."

      Prof Emile Bojesen (University of Winchester and author of the 2020 Routledge book, Forms of Education: Rethinking Educational Experience Against and Outside the Humanist Legacy)

      "This collection of works provides a powerful overview of the potential and versatility of a Lacanian approach for studies of education policy and teacher identity and development. Clarke’s work is creative and insightful, and offers new understandings of the relationship between individuals and societies in the conceptualisation and enactment of education in times and systems fixated on standards, accountability and relentless ‘improvement’. The book is essential reading for scholars of education policy and teachers’ work."

      Prof Nicole Mockler (University of Sydney and co-author of the Routledge books, Questioning the Language of Improvement and Reform in Education: Reclaiming Meaning and Facilitating Practitioner Research: Developing Transformational Partnerships)

      "Matthew Clarke is one of the most provocative and insightful commentators that we have in contemporary education policy. Education and the fantasies of neoliberalism: Policy, politics and psychoanalysis grapples with the ‘why’ of reform in education systems and posits that we can’t begin to understand policy without first addressing how it is that it becomes desired. This collection, drawn from his work over the last few decades, returns to Lacan and the psychosocial to understand how it is that systems, and actors within those systems, lose (and find) themselves in those spectral problems that haunt education discourse. It is a compelling read for anyone interested in the study of education policy."

      Greg Thompson, Professor of Education Research, Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, Queensland University of Technology