ERIC Number: EJ1098375
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Apr
Abstractor: As Provided
Democratic Education versus Smithian Efficiency: Prospects for a Deweyan Ideal in the "Neoliberal Age"
Meens, David E.
Educational Theory, v66 n1-2 p211-226 Apr 2016
In this essay, David Meens examines the viability of John Dewey's democratic educational project, as presented in "Democracy and Education," under present economic and political conditions. He begins by considering "Democracy and Education's" central themes in historical context, arguing that Dewey's proposal for democratic education grew out of his recognition of a conflict between how political institutions had traditionally been understood and organized on the one hand, and, on the other, emerging requirements for personal and social development in the increasingly interconnected world of the early twentieth century. Meens next considers Dewey's ideas in our contemporary context, which is dominated by a neoliberal ideology that extends the economic logic of Smithian efficiency to all domains of modern social and political life. He argues that the prevalence of neoliberalism poses two challenges to Deweyan democratic education: first, Dewey's emphasis on general education and a resistance to specialization is economically inefficient; and second, Dewey's strong, democratic conception of the "the public" is anathema to the neoliberal vision of the public as a conglomeration of individual agents. These challenges, he concludes, significantly stack the deck against Deweyan education by ensuring that the latter will be neither economically practicable nor widely understood.
Descriptors: Educational Philosophy, Democracy, Politics of Education, Neoliberalism, Individual Development, Social Development, Ideology, Efficiency, General Education, Educational Change, Resistance to Change, Specialization, Economics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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