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Illusory Freedoms: Liberalism, Education and the Market

ISBN: 978-0-631-20459-6
254 pages
December 1997, Wiley-Blackwell
Illusory Freedoms: Liberalism, Education and the Market (0631204598) cover image


The book brings together social philosophy and educational theory. Liberalism's unresolved tensions between freedom and equality, public and private good, individual and state, etc., are illuminated by controversies in educational theory and policy.
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Table of Contents


Part I:. Reordering Society: Reforming Education: .

1.1 Education and politics in a changing social order.

1.2 From consensus to contestation in a neutralist framework.

1.3 Education and preferences; a paradox?.

1.4 The re-forming of education.

1.5 Conclusion.

Part II: Reform: Rhetoric, Rationale and Representation:.

2.1 Privatising the public sphere: rationale and rhetoric.

2.2 The virtues of the market.

2.3 A suitable case for treatment: persuasion and plausibility.

2.4 Conclusion.

Part III: Educational 'Goods': Value and Benefit:.

3.1 Public project: private aspirations.

3.2 Conflicting aspirations: public benefit and private reward.

3.3 The value of educational 'goods'.

3.4 Conclusion.

Part IV: Rights and Choices:.

4.1 The power of 'rights talk'.

4.2 Rights to education: beneficiaries of education.

4.3 Parents' rights and consumer rights.

4.4 The good of each, of all and of none.

4.5 Conclusion.

Part V: Freedom and the Individual:.

5.1 From practice to theory.

5.2 Liberty and equality.

5.3 The 'two concepts of liberty' debate.

5.4 'Thick' and 'thin' conceptions of equality.

5.5 Liberty, equality and equity.

5.6 Conclusion.

Part VI: The Self and Its Preferences: .

6.1 How 'individual' is individual freedom?.

6.2 Individuals and their attributes: talents and abilities.

6.3 Understandings, tastes and values.

6.3 The family, the state and the individual.

6.4 Autonomy and individualism.

6.5 The social distribution of freedom.

6.6 Conclusion.

Part VII: Liberalism and Liberal Education:.

7.1 Neo-liberalism and education.

7.2 Liberal education: problems of theory and practice.

7.3 Liberal theory revisited.

7.4 Re-forming education; theory and practice.

7.5 Conclusion.

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Author Information

Ruth Jonathan is Professor of Educational Theory at the Institute for the Study of Education and Society, University of Edinburgh. Formerly Head of the Education Department, she is currently Director of the Graduate School for the Faculty of Social Sciences.
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The Wiley Advantage

* Education is currently at the top of the political agenda, and this book demonstrates its central role in political ethos and processes.
* It sets the changes in educational policy of the last decade in a broader context so that they can be better understood.
* The book presents the UK as a case study of the interface between education, which can be extended to any developed society and its public education provision.
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"As the title suggests, Illusory Freedoms: Liberalism, Education and the Market is a vigorous critique of the injection of market mechanisms into education." Times Literary Supplement
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