1st Edition

Student Engagement, Higher Education, and Social Justice Beyond Neoliberalism and the Market

By Corinna Bramley, Keith Morrison Copyright 2023
    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    Student engagement is a catch-all term, irresistible to educators and policy makers, and serving many agendas and purposes. This ground-breaking book provides a powerful theory of student engagement, rooted in critical theory and social justice. It sets out a compelling argument for student engagement to promote social justice and to repel neoliberalism in, and through, higher education, addressing three key questions:

    • Student engagement in what?
    • Student engagement for what?
    • Student engagement for whom?

    The answers draw on Habermas, Honneth, Gramsci, Foucault, and Giroux in examining ideology, power, recognition, resistance, and student engagement, with examples drawn from across the world. It sets out key features, limitations, and failures of neoliberalism in higher education, and indicates how student engagement can resist it. Student engagement calls for higher education institutions to be sites for challenge, debate on values and power, action for social justice, and for students to engage in the struggle to resist neoliberalism, taking action to promote social justice, democracy, and the public good.

    This book is essential reading for educators, researchers, managers and students in higher education, social scientists, and social theorists. It is a call to reawaken higher education for social justice, human rights, democracy, and freedoms.

    1. Setting the scene: overview and argument 2. What does ‘engagement’ actually mean? 3. Habermas, knowledge-constitutive interests, and ideology critique for student engagement 4. The ideal speech situation, communicative action, recognition, and student engagement 5. Student engagement in a neoliberal world 6. Foucault, neoliberalism, and higher education 7. Student engagement in the cracks in neoliberalism 8. Student engagement, social justice, and outflanking neoliberalism 9. Retrospect and prospect


    Corinna Bramley has been an English for Specific Purposes teacher and trainer in South East Asia for over 15 years. Before that she worked in high pressure international industry-specific publishing. Her educational research has mainly focused on university entrance examinations and student engagement.

    Keith Morrison is Professor of Education and Vice-rector at the University of Saint Joseph, Macao, China. He has published on critical theory, sociology of education, curriculum theory, and research methods, and is the co-author of Research Methods in Education (with Louis Cohen and Lawrence Manion).

    Student Engagement, Higher Education, and Social Justice is a tour de force. It is brilliant in its analysis of the meaning and relevance of student engagement as part of a larger project of empowerment, social justice, and social responsibility. The book is a welcome relief in light of the endless books that have depoliticized the concept and erased its critical theoretical foundations. Morrison and Bramley’s book is essential reading in a time of increasing attacks on education and social justice. It is informative, accessible, lyrical and brilliant in its analysis for addressing education as a vital and critical project. This book is a must reading for educators, parents, students, and others attempting to connect education with the imperatives of pedagogy, social justice, and democracy.'

    Henry A. Giroux, McMaster University Professor for Scholarship in the Public Interest, The Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy, McMaster University

    This is the book I wish I’d written! A compelling reframing of student engagement for social justice, this incisively argued text harvests the abundant riches of critical theory with such finesse that it serves both as the "go to" source for understanding the topic of student engagement in its full complexity, and as a model of deploying theory critically and intelligently to enhance analysis of any topic.

    Vicki Trowler, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom.

    'Drawing on Habermas, Honneth, Freire, Giroux, Foucault, and Gramsci, the authors Bramley and Morrison pose the questions ‘student engagement in what, for what and for whom?’. Their answer is in the resistance to neoliberalism in Higher Education and beyond in the pursuit of social justice. Neoliberalism, they quite rightly argue, is unfit for HE. Overcoming it requires a long-term commitment involving critical pedagogy, activism, solidarity, resistance, collectivity and ‘conscientization’ in the ongoing struggle for a better world. In these desperate times of endless austerity in the UK, and creeping fascism, not least in the United States, their book fosters an optimism of the will to challenge the many obstacles we face today.'

    Mike Cole, Emeritus Professor, Bishop Grosseteste University, United Kingdom. Editor of Education, Equality and Human Rights: Issues of Gender, ‘Race’, Sexuality, Disability and Social Class (5th Edition), and Equality, Education and Human Rights in the United States: Issues of Gender, Race, Sexuality, Disability and Social Class (1st Edition).