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Educating for Democratic Consciousness

Counter-Hegemonic Possibilities


Edited By Ali A. Abdi and Paul R. Carr

This book has received the AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award 2013.
There is a widespread, but mainly untenable, assumption that education in Western societies (and elsewhere) intuitively and horizontally aids the democratic development of people. An argument could be made that in contemporary liberal democracies, education was never designed for the well-being of societies. Instead of the full inclusion of everyone in educational development, it becomes dominated by those with a vested interest in the role of the liberal state as a mediating agent that, ultimately, assures the supremacy of the capitalism and neoliberalism. This book extends beyond a theoretical analysis of democratic education, seeking to tap into the substantial experiences, perspectives and research of a wide range of leading scholars from diverse vantage points, who bring themselves and their work into the debate connecting democracy and education, which elucidates the reference to counter-hegemonic possibilities in the title.
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Chapter 7. The End of the Obedient Neoliberal Citizen: Differential Consciousness and Reimagining Citizenship in a Time of Transformation | Lynette Shultz


I write this chapter in the fall of 2011 when all around me there are signs of transformations of the ideas and practices of democracy. Some of these signs are a simple awakening to the extent of how diminished our space for democratic engagement has become; other events seem to highlight the perils to democracy as we witness a kind of desperation by global and globalized elites as they react to global economic crises. Much more encouraging, to me, are the signs of an emerging social movement of people joined across nations and sectors, who demand to be considered by all levels of their governments in policies and decisions that impact them. One current problem of Western liberal democracies is what has been hidden in the rhetoric of democracy during the past decades of neoliberalism and globalization. While I disagree with arguments that the role of the state has been made less relevant, it is clear that we see shifts in the state’s responsibility as a protector and creator of society. These roles have become so eroded through neoliberalism that reports of citizens left to fend for themselves are shocking. Neoliberalism rests on the ideas that it is only possible to act as an economized individual. Here, we recall Margaret Thatcher, the political herald for much of neoliberal ideology, whose claim “there is no such thing as society, there are only individuals” (1987)1 sums up much of what is at the foundation of the diminished public sphere, repositioning citizenship...

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