Language Education Policy Studies
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Neoliberalism, Citizenship, and Governance

Global processes, socio-political forces, and economic disparities affect most people and act through language and education situations and policies. It is important to clarify terms common today-such as neoliberalism, post-structuralism, or post-capitalism- when discussing globalization and economics. Whichever term is used, most people agree that most of the world has now been brought into the capitalist system and incorporated into the world banking system and we have now moved into another phase of capitalism with many new faces of competition from individual to state to region.

Governance: Many states have disintegrated. Indeed, from 55 nations after World War II we find now almost two hundred. Yet key power holders such as transnational companies often dominate according to market, communication and technoscientific logic.

Citizenship: The conceptual and legal framing of nation, state, and social cohesion has evolved. Everyone is purportedly tied to a global citizenship.

Neoliberalism: While the capitalist system included state structures and democratic social guarantees (or a social contract), and we still find the language of social democracy, economic institutions and state support is rapidly decentralized and privatizing around the world. Structural adjustment policies are common everywhere, even in the United States and Europe where the system began. Neoliberalism is directly implicated in the growing violence and instability often related to war, that obviously then affects and subsumes other problems- economic, social, educational, political, cultural- all to the level of human dignity. Many times in scholarly reflection and the media, we find the tendency toward binaries- market or state, global or local, free or oppressed, literate or illiterate, skilled or unskilled, English speaker or non,- but it is not necessarily accurate to portray issues this way. These relate to education through language in education policies that determine people’s place social and economic standing. 


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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Harrison, K. M. (2013). Neoliberalism and the Citizen. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 


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