Conference Papers

The Global Neoliberal Political Economy of Education

This paper is a literature review providing a critical observation of the current academic debate on the meaning and purpose of education from a global political economy perspective driven by neoliberalism. It provides clarity for students and researchers on neoliberalism as a concept and examines the way political economies engage with education and assess the impact of neoliberalism as a global driver of educational development. The role of neoliberalism in political economies has been widely debated academically since its formulation as a socially orientated free market economic approach by German Ordoliberalists in the 1930’s and the Mont Pelerin Society in the 1940’s. However since it’s increasing ascendency in global political economies from 1978 there has been little consistency in the way it is used (Clarke, 2008). Venugopal (2016:1) states the term is ‘…controversial, incoherent, and crisis ridden…’. This has led to a current strand of academic thought which considers the effect of neoliberalism on education and educational development (Verger et al., 2016, Gillard, 2018) without a firm conceptual base. This paper presents a conceptual base for neoliberalism in education and begins to assess the notion of a global political economy of education. It concludes there is a post 1978 ‘new’ neoliberalism, far removed from the 1930’s economic concept which is widely used in many contexts and critical of any free market interference in education. It should be seen as a critical perspectives by students, teachers and researchers searching for answers. It finds the perception of a global political economy of education driven by neoliberalism tainted because of lack of a clear definition of ‘new’ neoliberalism and suggests it is seen as just another critical paradigm.

Gazdula, J. and Uddin, F. (2019) 'The Global Neoliberal Political Economy of Education', paper presented to The 15th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 27–28 June, viewed 08 August 2020, <>