The neoliberal educational_agenda


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The neoliberal educational_agenda

  1. 1. http://www.jstor.orgThe Neoliberal Educational Agenda and the Legitimation Crisis: Old and New State StrategiesAuthor(s): Xavier BonalSource: British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 24, No. 2, (Apr., 2003), pp. 159-175Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.Stable URL: 17/06/2008 14:22Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We enable thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact
  2. 2. BritishJournalof Sociologyof Education,Vol. 24, o. 2, 2003 CarfaxPublishingll Taylor& FrancisGroupTheNeoliberalEducationalAgendaandtheLegitimationCrisis:oldandnewstatestrategiesXAVIER BONAL, AutonomousUniversityof Barcelona,SpainABSTRACT In thecontextofglobalisationandhegemonicneoliberalism,thestatesabilityto legitimatetheeconomicsystemandits ownpoliciescannotbeassumedas a positiveautomaticeffect.Theeconomicandpoliticalconditionsthatonceframedstateactionhavechanged,andit is reasonableto thinkthattheemergenceof a new accumulationregimeimpliesalso a shift in the traditionalstrategiesusedby thenation-stateto legitimateits policy-making.Thispaperreviewshow theneoliberaleducationalagendadevelopsa newpoliticalrationalitythatchangesthe traditionalformsin whichthestatehas managedits legitimationcrisis.In addition,thepaperarguesthatcontext-basedfactors,nationallyspecific,showthat thispoliticalrationalitymay not be unformlyappliedamongdifferentnation-states.The case ofsemiperipheralcountriesprovidessomeevidenceon thenecessarycombinationof old and new strategiesdevelopedby thestateto legitimatea neoliberalagenda.IntroductionRecent analyses within the educational policy field have reported significant changes inthe traditional modes of state intervention in education. It is usually argued, althoughscarcely demonstrated, that these changes are related to changes in the global economy(McGinn, 1997; Held et al., 1999). Globalisation affects the educational process in manyways [1] but, among its wide range of impacts, it is probably the changing role of thestate that has deeper social and economic consequences. The role of the state ineducational and other intervention areas of policy-making, provision and funding isbeing challenged by changes in the global economy that have consequences on the scopeand mode of operation of the state. Of course, not all the authors agree with thisposition. As Held et al. (1999) argue, the globalisation debate shows hyperglobalist,sceptical and transformational positions. Authors classified in the first category sustainthat the nation-state practically disappears because global economic networks overcomeits power (Ohmae, 1995); sceptics do not see globalisation as something new frominternationalisation, thus globalisation hardly challenges the role of the state (Hirst &Thompson, 1996). Transformational approaches, on the other hand, recognise theexistence of global economic, political and cultural processes that modify the role of theISSN 0142-5692 (print)/ISSN 1465-3346 (online)/03/020159-17 ? 2003 Taylor & FrancisLtdDOI: 10.1080/0142569032000052551
  3. 3. 160 X. Bonalcapitalist state. However, these authors sustain that the globalisation process impliessubstantial changes but not the demise of the state. Within the educational policy field,this position is defended, among others, by Dale (1997, 2000)[2]. As he argues,recognising the existence of globalisation does not mean that the state has less presenceor that its presence is less significant in the provision, funding or regulation of publicservices. The forms in which the state, the market and the community combine in theprovision, regulation and funding of education makes clear that the globalisation effecton educational policy is not a simple transfer from the public to the private sector. There-structuring of state intervention can take different forms depending upon a range offactors that, in many cases, remain nationally based. We cannot assume, therefore, eitherthat globalisation does not have effects on the state role and intervention strategies or anecessary convergence effect as a result of the globalisation process. That is, institutionalfactors play a crucial role in the form that globalisation effects are recontextualised. Thehistory of the education system, the articulation and strength of civil society, the stateadministrative and bureaucratic culture, etc., are possible divergence factors amongcapitalist states.This paper departs from this perspective to develop an analysis about how the newcontext of policy-making shapes one of the core problems of the capitalist state: itslegitimation capacity. In the context of globalisation and hegemonic neoliberalism, thestates ability to legitimate the economic system and its own policies cannot be assumedas a positive automatic effect. The economic and political conditions that once framedstate action have changed, and it is reasonable to think that the emergence of a newaccumulation regime implies also a shift in the traditional strategies used by the nationalstate to legitimate its policy-making. However, recognising the existence of that changedoes not mean that national states react to their legitimation problems using the sameinstruments and strategies. Institutional and national factors play a crucial role indetermining the state legitimation strategies in education as well as in other policy fields.Thus, this paper aims also to provide some evidence on possible sources of differentlegitimation strategies developed by states that are currently implementing neoliberaleconomic and social policies. To fulfil these objectives, the paper is structured in thefollowing sections. The following section reviews basic theoretical arguments on thelegitimation crisis of the Keynesian Welfare State (KWS) and the legitimation manage-ment strategies within the educational policy field. The third section analyses mainchanges in state political rationality led by the emergence of the competitive state, andopens questions about the possible consequences on the legitimation strategies inneoliberal contexts. The following section builds on the work of Robertson and Dale(2002) to provide a theoretical description of the relationship between neoliberal politicalrationality and the state response to the core problems of legitimation and social control.The final section highlights some of the shortcomings of the previous analysis in orderto provide a full account of the state legitimation problems and legitimation managementstrategies developed by semiperipheral states in the educational policy field.Educational Policy and State LegitimationDales (1989) analysis of the state and education policy highlighted three core problemsof the capitalist state:(a) To give support to the process of capital accumulation.
  4. 4. NeoliberalEducationand theLegitimationCrisis(b) To provide the necessary social cohesion to reproduce the capitalist mode ofproduction.(c) To legitimatethe capitalistmode of productionand the state itself.A numberof specificationsaccompaniedthe threecore problems(Dale, 1989, p. 29);forexample,the identificationof the core problemsdid not entailidentifyingthe particularmeans by which they would be tackled,the differencebetween problem identificationand the statecapacityto solveit, the non-exhaustionof the stateagendaby the threecoreproblemsand, mostimportantly,the contradictoryratherthan complementarycharacterof the actions addressedto solve the three core problems.The state problemswithin the educationalpolicy field were structurallythe same asthose the state had to face in each area of public intervention.In late capitalism,thegrowingpresenceof the statein the productionprocessand its responsibilityfor ensuringthe reproductionof the systemputs pressureon both the effectivenessof state decision-makingand the maintenanceof massloyaltyas a legitimationinput for those decisions.These two normallycontradictorygoals are simultaneousobjectivesof the state agenda.Habermasdescribesit with the followingwords:The state apparatus thus has two simultaneous tasks. It has to levy thenecessarytaxes from profitsand income and employ them so efficientlyas toprevent any crisesfrom disturbinggrowth.In additionthe selectiveraisingoftaxes,the recognisableprioritymodel of theirutilisation,and the administrativeperformancehave to function in such a way to satisfythe resultingneed forlegitimation. If the state fails in the former task, the result is a deficit inadministrativeefficiency.If it fails in the lattertasks,the resultis a deficitinlegitimation.(1984, p. 145)The workof Habermason the legitimationcrisisin late capitalism,Offesanalysisaboutthe contradictionsof the welfare state (Offe, 1984), and Dales theory of the capitaliststate and educationpolicy gave us a criticaltheoreticalframeworkfrom which to focusempiricallyon the contradictorynatureof state decision-makingin education.Some ofthe attemptsto meet the accumulationgoal would usuallybe accompaniedby an effectof underminingthe stateslegitimationcapacity.Within the educationpolicy field, thislast point can be illustratedby the traditionaltension between selectiveor open-accesspolicies. Policies that would strengthenthe selectivecharacterof the education systemwould have the predictable effect of creating resistanceand contestationfrom thoseexcluded by the system.The central question became, therefore,to identify how the state could manage itslegitimationdeficitsin the processof implementinga policy agenda.Understandinghowthe statesolvedthe erosionof its politicalauthorityto achievethe necessaryconsentwascentralto interpretthe directionand meaning of educationalpolicies and discourses.Itwas the workof Hans Weiler that did most to illuminatethis area. Weiler (1989, 1990)coined the notion of compensatorylegitimationto analyse the need for the state todevelop compensatorymeasurescausedby the continuousfailureof educationalpoliciesand reforms.A considerablepart of state interventionin education would thereby beunderstoodas legitimationcrisismanagement.This would include initiativeslike devel-oping strategiesof designing,planningand experimentingwith educationalreform,thesymbolicproductionof modernisationdiscourses,the incorporationof expertsopinioninto specificareasof decision-makingor, indeed, decentralisationpolicies to reduce thestate political and economic burden in educationalprovision.Independentlyof the type of compensatorylegitimation measures that had to be161
  5. 5. 162 X. Bonaldeveloped by the state, it is noteworthy that the source of state legitimation problemswithin the KWS mode of regulation was related to the importance of formal educationto explain both the basis of economic growth and the allocation of social positions withinthe social structure. The state assumed responsibility for making the education systemefficient by embracing human capital theory, and thereby the correspondence betweeneducation, productivity and private earnings, and social benefits. In addition, theideology of equality of educational opportunity appeared adequate to legitimate meritoc-racy and social justice. The state carried the burden of being responsible for, at leastrhetorically, neutralising the effects of class, gender or ethnic differences on educationalperformance, mainly because it was the only way to justify a fair but unequal socialstructure as a result of educational performance distribution.As it is known, in Western societies the education crisis of the 1970s provoked differentreactions depending on the position and ideologies of different sectors of the economyand civil society. Education received severe criticism for being responsible for the lowproductivity of labour and the economic crisis. At the same time, as theories ofreproduction and correspondence pointed out, the education system was not onlyincapable of ending the reproduction of the class structure, but was actually responsiblefor ensuring that reproduction as a central rule of the capitalist (or bourgeois) classhegemony. The education crisis made more explicit than ever the contradictory natureof the core problems of the capitalist state. Criticisms of poor education systemperformance to favour the accumulation process were simultaneous to criticisms for thelack of neutrality of formal education and claims to democratise it.Interestingly, tensions caused by simultaneous and contradictory demands took placewhen the state was economically and politically less capable to respond to them. Thefiscal crisis of the state, on the one hand, and the continuous increase in educationaldemand, on the other, made it extremely difficult for the state to maintain the necessarymass loyalty to legitimate its policies. As Codd et al. point out:This produces a structural contradiction in state policies which adopt non-market or decommodifiedmeans for achieving specific social goals, while beingdependent upon the processes of commodity production and exchange for theircontinued viability. (1997, p. 265; original emphasis)In these circumstances, the state political rationality to solve its efficiency or legitimationdeficits becomes more and more obsolete or, using Offes words, the situation is that inwhich the state faces a crisis of crisis management (Offe, 1984). The political instru-ments (discourses, regulations, etc.) normally used to compensate for the legitimationcrisis are less effective, because of the economic structural conditions (e.g. the growth ofgraduate unemployment) and because of the masses lack of credibility of state policiesand discourses. What is more, Keynesian political rationality leads the state to theunavoidable need to change it, because it is a type of rationality that, in a context ofeconomic crisis, accentuates the fiscal and legitimation problems of the state. The reasonfor this is that, under the KWS mode of regulation, the state assumes full responsibilityfor the protection of national citizens. Thus, it is socially expected that it is a duty of thestate to respond to the inefficiencies of the system as it is to solve all possible crises andensure citizens rights. In addition, since social entitlements are linked to individualslabour market position, the growth of unemployment and underemployment makes itnot only economically, but also legally difficult for the state to maintain the welfare ofa growing number of citizens.While the circumstances of the crisis of Keynesian political rationality are quite clear,
  6. 6. NeoliberalEducationand theLegitimationCrisisit is less evident whether the state has been able to develop a new political rationality tocope with legitimation problems. Claus Offe referred to a change in state politicalrationality in the shift from conjunctural to structural policies. The first type of policiesseek to maximise the adequacy of policy responses to problems as they emerge andappear on the agenda (Offe, 1985, p. 226). The structural mode of political rationality,on the contrary, intends to maintain a certain level of output while trying to channeldemand inputs in a way that is affordable within the available resources. Dale (1989)used Offes distinction between conjunctural and structural policies to interpret some ofthe strategies of Thatcherism to re-structure the educational mandate. He identified theTechnical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) experience as a clear structuralmode of political rationality. By developing the TVEI initiative, the state intended tochange from a reactive to an active mode of educational policy-making; that is, as astrategy to pre-define the goals and the means through which those goals should beachieved. But as Dale argued, the TVEI experience and other policies were not sufficientto affirm that a new mandate and a new political rationality had been fully implemented.In addition, it is not clear whether the adoption of a structural mode of politicalrationality, which might certainly contribute to solving administrative and efficiencyproblems of the state agenda, would entail either the resolution of the chronic legitima-tion problems of the state or facilitate the emergence of new strategies to manage thelegitimation crisis.State Legitimation in the Neoliberal ContextThe 1990s have been a decade of growing hegemonic neoliberalism. Neoliberalism hasbeen pushed by multilateral agencies and most powerful states as the major globalproject for economic growth and development. Despite major setbacks in recent years(East Asia financial crisis, economic polarisation, global resistance), the neo-liberal projecthas not been deeply challenged as the dominant economic doctrine for growth anddistribution-largely because of its ability to reconstruct its strategies and tactics Jessop,2001). Developed and developing states have voluntarily or compulsorily embracedneoliberalism (with, certainly, different variants) as the best economic and politicalstrategy to keep up with the challenges of the global economy-see Samoff (1994) andGwynne and Kay (1999) for an account of the impact of neoliberal policies in developingcountries.Generally speaking, this economic and political orientation entails a number a policiesthat are actually challenging the traditional role and function of the state. Cerny (1997),for example, has referred to these changes as the emergence of the competitive state asopposed to the traditional Keynesian state form. The state must be competitiveexternally, following the rule of competitive advantage. According to this pattern, thestate has to facilitate a regulative framework in which the national economy can competein the international market (usually by facilitating innovation and the conditions for ahigh value added production). It has to create conditions for attracting capital andfacilitating technological innovation and investment. There are, therefore, increasingpressures from capital for keeping salaries and taxes and transaction costs as low aspossible, and for reducing the fiscal pressure on capital benefits and labour costs. At thesame time, the unique and mainstream form to be externally competitive is bydeveloping internal competitive modes of governance. Distribution of goods and servicesand modes of public administration are now guided by the adoption of marketmechanisms within the state. The traditional form of welfare state seems no longeradequate to a capital accumulation regime that needs the withdrawal of the state from163
  7. 7. 164 X. Bonala numberof activitiesand services,and the re-definitionof the normativerulesin whichcapitalcan operate.Quasi-marketformsof provision,greateraccountability,contractual-ism, decentralisation,etc. are new forms of public management that are drasticallychanging the nature of the capitaliststate.How do these processes impact on state legitimation capacity? Does the stateexperiencenew or fewerproblemsin achievingthe necessarycredibilityto implementanew agenda?From the precedingreview,it is not possibleto infer an automaticeffecton the statesabilityto solve or to manageits legitimationproblems.Indeed, at a purelytheoreticallevel thereis not a clearanswerto thesequestions.On the one hand,it wouldbe possibleto think that if the state removes its centralityfrom some areas of welfareprovision,its politicalburdenwill be also reduced.In this case, the statewould solve itslegitimationcrisisby withdrawingfromthose areasmorevulnerableto politicalcontesta-tion. On the other hand, from an extremeversionof a neo-Marxisttheory of the state,it could be also argued that in a neoliberalcontext the state would experience moreproblemsin legitimatingits actions because tensionswithin the capitalistaccumulationprocessand the worse workingconditionsof the labourforce will reinforcethe internalcontradictionsof capitalism.Neither of these theoreticalextremeshave been empiricallycontrasted,and none ofthem are actuallyplausible.The firstone assumesthat neoliberalhegemonyworkswellenough to saturate peoples consciousness. Thus, from this perspective, neoliberaldiscourses would be embedded with certain properties that per se could persuadeindividualsand socialgroupsaboutthe goodnessof the marketto allocateand distributeresources.Discoursesabout the positive trickle-downeffect of marketdistributivemecha-nismswouldconvincethe massesaboutthe benefitsof minimisingstateintervention,andthereby would incorporate its own legitimation capacity. From this perspective, thelegitimation problems of the state would be over because policies oriented to theaccumulationprocess would incorporatethe necessarypolitical consent for their im-plementation. Since, at a discursivelevel, accumulation is legitimation, the classicaltension of neo-Marxist state theories would constitute an inadequate frameworktounderstandthe problemsfaced by the capitaliststatein a global and neoliberalcontext.This theoreticalextremeseemsto ignorethe factthat neoliberalpoliciesgenerategreatersocial inequalities,which are normallya source of social struggleand politicalconflict.In addition,by reducingits presence,it cannot be assumedthat the statedoes not haveto legitimatethe resultsof economicperformanceand re-distribution.Deregulationis initselfa typeof policy-making,and citizensstillhave the powerof showingtheirdiscontentby voting againstthe government.The marketdoes not have to respondpoliticallyforits success or failure; rather, it is the state that is responsible for the politics ofnon-decision-makingand for introducing market mechanisms in the processes ofresourceallocationand distribution.The second perspective maintains the assumption that contradictionswithin thecapitalistsystemwill increasebecause profitmaximisationmay only be achieved at theexpense of greater labour exploitation. By withdrawing from key areas of welfareprovision, the state would actually remove the necessary net that has buried thecontradictorynature of capitalist expansion. As a result, the state will face moredifficultiesto legitimatean economic system that generatesincreasinginequalitiesandinhumane living conditions for a growing number of people. The problem with thisinterpretationis simplyits blindnessin the face of the evidence of the historicalabilityof capitalism to mitigate its internal contradictions and to generate the necessaryconditionsfor its reproductionas a dominantmode of production.Therefore,it would
  8. 8. NeoliberalEducationandtheLegitimationCrisisbe naive to considerthat the legitimationcrisisof the state would be structurallymoreacute along with the extension of a neoliberalagenda.These reflectionslead us to focus on two centralquestionsto analysechangesin thelegitimationproblems and the legitimation management strategiesdeveloped by thecapitalist state within the educational field. The first question refers to the need toconsiderqualitativeratherthan quantitativechanges in the legitimationcrisis.That is,since globalisationproduceschangesin the economic regimeof accumulationand in theassociatedmode of social regulation(Jessop,1994;Aglietta, 1998),there is no reasontothink that state legitimationproblems will be either marginal or more acute in thepost-Keynesianera. Rather, they will probablybe differentand linked to the develop-ment of a new political rationality.That is, the relevant question is not if the stateexperiencesgreateror fewer legitimationproblemsbecause of the implementationof aneoliberalagenda.Rather,the centralaspectbecomes that of understandinghow a newpoliticalrationalityworksand how does it incorporateits own logic of legitimation.Theanalysis of the symbolic production of state discoursesunderlyinginnovative policiesbecomes a crucial aspect in understandingthe new management of legitimationproblems.The second question refersto the intersectionbetween possible tendencies towardsconvergence in policy styles and agendas caused by globalisationmechanisms, andpossiblenationaldivergencesdue to factorslike the structureand historyof educationalsystemsor the role and influenceof interestgroupswithin the civil society.My point isthat state legitimation crisis in education is particularlysubject to specific factors ofnationaleducationalsystems.That is, althoughthe globalisationof a neoliberalagendamay producea tendencytowardspolicy uniformity,legitimationproblemsstillariseas aresponseby nationalcitizensto decisionstakenby the nation-state.The questionof howglobalisationis nationallyrecontextualisedbecomes crucialto understandingthe strate-gies developedby the state to manage its legitimationproblems.It is to these questionsthat we now turn. The first-the logic of legitimation from a neoliberal politicalrationality-will be addressedby looking at the work of Robertsonand Dale (2002) onlocalstatesofemergency.The second questionwill build on examplesfrom semiperipheralstates to illustrate how national factors may introduce variations in the nature oflegitimationproblemsand in the forms in which the state managesthose problems.Neoliberal Political Rationality and the Management of EducationalConflictSusanRobertsonand Roger Dale (2002)have exploredthe implicationsof the economicrationalityof the competitionstatefor statelegitimationstrategies.This topic was lightlyexploredin some of their previousworks(Dale, 1998; Robertson& Dale, 2000), wherethey statedthat,with the riseof the competitivestate,the stateslegitimationburdenwasincreasinglybeing managed through prioritisingaccumulationover legitimation.Thisargument relied on the evidence that, with the globalisation process, states wereenhancing economic competitivismand commodificationin almost all spheres of life.Withineducation,thisprocesscouldbe seen in a policy-makingstrategythatemphasisesschool markets, entrepreneurialism,internationaltesting, etc. It was by removing itspresence from many areas of life that the state could consequentlyreduce its chroniclegitimationdeficit.As Dale argued:The problemof legitimationis now quite different.One of the majorimpulses165
  9. 9. 166 X. Bonalof the competitionstate is to minimisepublic expenditure,both as an act offiscal prudence and orthodox and as a political preference in favour ofremovingthe state from all but a necessaryminimum activity.These motivescoincidein the withdrawof the statefrom responsibilityfor a very wide rangeof public services which thereby reduces, or even removes, the chroniclegitimation deficit it suffered under welfare state regimes, reduces publicexpenderand increasesthe scope of profitmakingactivities.The legitimationproblembecomes convertedinto one of efficientdeliveryof public servicestoindividualcitizens. (1998, p. 102)In Robertsonand Dale (2002),thisinitialpositionis partiallyreviewed.In thispapertheauthorsmaintainthat, althoughthis argumentmay be correctat one level (thatof therhetoricalpromotion of the benefits of the market),it is also the case that there isconsiderableevidence being amassedthat the workingand middle classeshave faced adeclinein theirstandardof living,theirsituationin the labourmarketis moreprecarious,and access to state provisionsuch as education, health and housing and other welfareservices,has become more tenuous.At the same time, the statefaces growingproblemsof unrulinessand social disorder,particularlyin those communitiesthat have borne thebrunt of the economic and social restructuring(Robertson& Dale, 2002, p. 464).From that point they proceed to analyse how the new political rationalityof thecompetition state produces the emergence of a new logic of legitimation and socialcontrol management, and the type of contradictionsembedded in this logic. This isdevelopedby analysingthe problemof socialorderin capitalistsocietiesand the logic ofneo-liberalrationalityto deal with it. This analysisis specificallyapplied to the NewZealand state.FollowingJessop(2000)and Offe (1997),Robertsonand Dale argue thatthe problemof socialorderin capitalistsocietiesis a structuralone withinsocietieswherethe systemof stratificationand unequalsocialrelationscreateconditionsfor conflictandinstability.Since socialorderhas been and continuesto be basedon the labourcontract,the persistenceof unemploymentand the associatedgrowthof precariousnessin capitalistsocieties createsproblems of social control that can no longer be based on a politicalrationalitythat centresits credibilityon the goal of fullemployment.Herein, the authorscontemplatehow neo-liberalpoliticalrationalityis used by the stateas a usefuldoctrineto manage social conflict because it can be mobilised to alleviate the problem ofprecariousnessthrough privileging the self, as entrepreneur,as responsiblefor bothcreating and participatingin productiveactivity and that this activityis the basis fordistribution.The labourcontractis thuslocatedwithinthe selfratherthan the stateandcitizen; the self ideologically internalisesthe state and with it the potential risk ofprecariousness(Robertson& Dale, 2002, p. 467).Thus, it is from this political rationality that the state develops new modes ofgovernancethat seek to create a regimeof truth,which is necessaryto achieveloyaltyand consent. In this way, the state seeks to reconstructthe basis of its legitimationthrough relocating, and thus depoliticising,state power to individualsand to groups.Neo-liberalism,with its emphasison the enterprisingself, becomes a keymechanismtothe depolitisationprocess.However, as the authorsargue, that processdoes not happen without contradiction.There are areas,like education,that cannotbe easilydepoliticisedthroughthe creationof markets.Afterall, stateinterventionin educationhas been historicallyand politicallygroundedin the chronicfailureof markets.Thus, for the neoliberalstate,managingthe
  10. 10. NeoliberalEducationand theLegitimationCrisiscontradictions of governance is not a straightforward matter. As Robertson and Daleargue:The neoliberal paradigm insists upon (rhetorically at least) a greatly reducedrole for the state in intervening in social and economic life. The problem forthe state is this: it is unable to withdraw as it had hoped and nor could itcontinue to act only as a coordinator of social policy (rather than funder/provider/regulator) as the two new players in the social policy governanceframework, the market and the community have also failed and where theirfailure is a result of the new governance framework. However, in order tosecure legitimacy and social order to enable accumulation the state mustintervene more strongly. (2002, p. 464-465)This contradiction, as the authors show, has actually shaped neoliberal educationalpolicies in many places. Educational markets, for instance, have been largely regulatedby the state or other public bodies. Neoliberal political rationality, however, developsmechanisms through which the state can manage to reduce its presence as well as itslegitimation burden, while at the same time uses new modes of governance to intervenein the affairs of individuals and communities. The state, for instance, reconstructs themeaning of concepts like community or civil society in a way that they can actuallyappeal more to citizens duties than to citizens rights. Thus, rather than subjects ofrights, individuals become subjects of duties having to demonstrate that they deservetheir rights and entitlements. Individual and collective behaviour are formally free, butnew forms of governance are able to shape that behaviour. In other words, the state hastried to continue to centrally organise through its governance strategies directed atindividuals: through markets and choice (individuals believe they are acting as auton-omous choosers in a free marketplace); contracts and audit (where individual andcollective behaviour is a matter of public accountability); New Public Management(where the behaviours of individuals and local organisations are shaped through targets,standards, outputs and outcomes); and social capital (where the notion of community asa political subject and territory to be governed are the new sites for legitimating forstates) (Robertson & Dale, 2002, p. 469).Finally, since there is evidence that neoliberal policies produce losers and victims, thestate must develop a concrete mechanism to control their dislocation and potential risk.Robertson and Dale describe five forms of localstatesof emergencythat are examples oftechnologies of power developed by the neoliberal state to secure social control and tomanage its legitimation problems. These local states of emergency (managing the self,patching the safety net, emergency services, hot spots and zones of emergency [3]) arediscursive and strategic tools developed or sponsored by the state to manage risk anddeviance that result from the implementation of a neoliberal agenda. By using local statesof emergency, the state is able to respond to a range of educational problems andconflicts like students violence, school drop-outs, teacher shortages, educational andsocial problems in deprived zones, and so on.Interestingly enough, local states of emergency imply a substantial presence of the statein the resolution of educational conflicts. This is so even though its legitimationrationality is based on the minimum state. However, the type of responses through localstates of emergency appear like immediate therapies to specific problems, rather thanrational and bureaucratic state strategies. If possible, the state tries to pass the ball tothe school and to the community in order to solve the problem, normally by usingcontractual strategies that position schools and communities as responsible for school167
  11. 11. 168 X. Bonalperformance.Sometimes,the state cannot escape from assuminga direct role in conflictresolution,as in the case of teachersshortages.However, this role is alwayspresentedas an emergencyrole. That is, once the problemis solved,the statemay disappearbecausemarketsand their trickle-downeffectwill allocate and distributemuch better than anybureaucraticbody.Now, it is somewhatparadoxicalthat a structuralmode of stateintervention(inthesense defined by Offe) that tries to channel demands towardsthe achievementof anaffordableoutput has to be accompaniedby an emergency(or conjunctural)mode ofresponse to deal with risk and marketfailure. This apparentcontradictionis actuallylogical when we look at the contradictionsembeddedin neoliberalpoliticalrationality.The stateattemptsto depoliticiseeducationthroughdiscursiveand policy strategiesthatemphasiseself-responsibilityand self-regulation.Schoolsand communitiesare told to actas entrepreneursthat, as such,mustpursuetheirown interestin orderto be competitiveand more efficient.At the same time, neoliberalrationalityclaims that this behaviouralso servesthe generalwill of society,hidingthe evidenceof exclusion,schoolfailureandsegregationprovokedby educationalmarkets.The neoliberalstate must thereforedealwith its own failure, which forces it to intervene occasionally to solve its risks bydevelopinglocal statesof emergency,somethingthat is essentiallycontradictorywith itsbasic moral precept of non-intervention.In summary,Robertsonand Dales argumentsare an accuratedescriptionabout theforms used by the competitivestate to manage educationalconflictand the contradic-tions embedded in the neoliberal modes of governance. Local states of emergencyrepresentpowerfultechnologiesthatappearas adequatemeanswithinneoliberalpoliticalrationality.However, in my view, there are two aspectsof their argumentthat can bequestioned. The first refers to their conception of legitimation problems within thecompetitivestateas a secondaryproblemvis-a-visthe priorityof accumulationproblems.That is, althoughlegitimationproblemsareincorporatedas an importantaspectthat theneoliberal state has to deal with, they are basically understood as a consequence ofimplementing an agenda that is exclusively set up by education policy-makingthatsupportsthe capital accumulationprocess. By using this approach,the authorsunder-mine how legitimation problems may themselves shape the state educational policyagenda. Second, theirargumentsassumethat competitivestatesuse the same neoliberaldiscursiveandpolicystrategiesto managesocialcontroland legitimationproblems.Localstatesof emergencyarepresentedas a resourceto dealwithboth setsof problems,whichare not distinguishedin the article.While social controlproblemsmay cause problemsof legitimation to the state, not all state legitimation problems may be reduced toproblemsof social control.Robertsonand Dale constructtheir argumentsbuildingon a country(New Zealand)that is currentlyimplementingstrong and extreme versions of neoliberalpolicies. Mypoint is that the earlierstatementsmay not have the same meaning if we look at othercountriesthat are also implementingclear neoliberaleconomic policies (likeSpain).Inthe final section of this paper, I will focus on some aspects of the Spanish state andeducationalpolicyin orderto give a responseto the two problems.The sectionwillfocuson providingsome evidence on how the Spanish educationalpolicy agenda has beenlargely shaped by its legitimation problems, a set of problems that result from thestructuraland historicaldistinctivenessof the semiperipheralform of the SpanishState.By developingthis argumentit will be also possibleto show that, althoughthe SpanishState has used local statesof emergencyto deal with problemsof educationalriskandsocial control, the state has developed a differentrationalityto deal with legitimation
  12. 12. JNeoliberalEducationandtheLegitimationCrisisproblems.This analysiswillallowus to concludewith some reflectionson the importanceof the recontextualisationprocessof global trendsin educationpolicy in understandinglocal and nationalimpacts.Legitimation Problems and the Process of Agenda Setting: is there aSemiperipheral Type of Neoliberalism?It is not within the scope of this article to review the specificcharacteristicsof massschoolingin SouthernEuropeancountrieslike Spain or Portugal.In this section, I willconcentrateonly on some theoreticalor empiricalaspectsthat may be usefulto illustratehow semiperipheralstates have recently dealt with legitimationproblems during theimplementationprocessof a neoliberalagenda.The Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos has fully developed theconcept of semiperipheryto interpretthe specifichistorical,politicaland socio-economicconditionsof SouthernEuropeancountries(Santos,1992).His theoreticalframeworkhasbeen also used to analyse education policy-makingand the structureand content ofeducationalsystemsin Portugal(Stoer&Araujo,1992;Stoer, 1994;Gomes, 1996),Spain(Bonal, 1995;Bonal & Rambla, 1996)and Greece (Kanakis,1996).Accordingto Santos(1992, p. 109),semiperipheralsocietiesare characterisedby what he callsan articulatedmismatch between production and social consumption. That is, while consumptionpatterns are closer to core capitalistcountries, there is a lower development of theproductionsystem.This is an articulatedmismatchbecause there are two factorsthatenablesocietyto cope withit. On the one hand,buffergroupsin the socialstructurehelpto meet some of the deficitsof public provision.They fulfilthe needs that marketsandthe state fulfilin other economies. Examplesof these are the importanceof womensdomesticlabourto substitutewelfarestateprovision,undergroundeconomic activitiestocomplementlow familyincomes or the role of familysupportin substitutingcommunityservices. Semiperipheralsocial formations are thereby supported by what has beennamed welfaresocieties-family and communitynetworks-which substitutefor welfarestateservices.On the otherhand, in semiperipheralsocieties,Santosargues,the Stateiscentral in social and economic regulation, even though its direct intervention inproductionor in serviceprovisionmay be very narrow.For instance,legislationallowssome privateinstitutionsto provide education, health or social services,but maintainsbureaucraticcontrolovertheirorganisation.The main consequenceof thisaction is thatthe state is internally strong because of its wide scope of activities, but it is oftenweakenedby its own regulation:due to the heterogeneityof its policies,its legitimationis continuouslystrained.Now, it is this second aspect of the semiperipheralstate that interestsus most. Myargument is that the specific characteristicsof the semiperipheralstate extremelyinfluencethe process of agenda settingand have consequencesfor the managementoflegitimationproblems.Within the educationalpolicy field, the clearesttension betweenaccumulationand legitimationgoals have been related to the simultaneousprocess ofcrisisand consolidationof mass schooling.That is, in SouthernEuropeancountries,thedemand for education and social mobility expectationsonly startedin the mid-1970s;that is, once core capitalistcountrieshad alreadyexpandedtheir educationsystemsandwere facingeconomic and educationalcrises.Thus, the semiperipheralstatehad to dealwith the acute contradictionof modernisingand adaptingthe education systemto theneeds of the productivesystem, and at the same time providingfor the first time inhistorya real equalityof educationalopportunityfor the masses.On the other hand, as169
  13. 13. 170 X. BonalI have argued elsewhere (Bonal, 2000), in countries like Spain the semiperipheral statehad to deal with multiple and complex demands coming from very heterogeneousinterest groups whose configuration, power resources and position within the educationalpolicy field were the result of the historically dual Spanish education system (a systemdivided between a private, and mainly religious, sector; and a public, historicallyabandoned by the Francoist state, sector).The referred structural and historical contingencies have conditioned the process ofagenda setting. The state has had to cope with very contradictory demands that havesaturated its own capacity to construct an autonomous education policy agenda:teachers claims for better work conditions and better wages, pressures from the privatesector to preserve its privileges, political platforms defending public schooling, pressuresform the Catholic Church to include religion as a compulsory subject, claims fromregional administrations to expand their control capacity over the education system, andclaims from the university system for more funding and administrative autonomy, aresome examples that have conditioned the development of the education policy agenda.Structural contradictions and the contradictory nature of a range of demands comingfrom different parts of civil society have produced a particular mode of state interventionin education. Elsewhere I have referred to this type of intervention as a conditionedrelativeautonomy of the state (Bonal, 2000, p. 215). That is, the result of the specific recursiveeffect between the structure and intervention strategies of interest groups and theeducational policy developed by the state. The multiple educational interests and theirforms of interaction affect in some way the educational policy agenda. At the same time,educational policy-making and policy processes have effects on the actors interactions,even on their political survival [4]. Despite this reciprocal effect, the fact that groupsactions affect the state agenda does not imply that this agenda is determined byeducational organisations interests. Actually, the state agenda in education has to benecessarily and relatively autonomous becauseof the existence of a plural civil society. Therelative autonomy of the state in educational policy-making has to be understood as anunavoidable and unintended consequence. That is, the state does not develop anautonomous policy agenda deliberatel,but actually as a necessary consequence of thecomplexity of civil society and their diverse demands. This situation does not account fora pluralist vision of the state where the state tries to respond to different interests and triesto pursue the common good. Of course, not all the groups have the same powerresources to influence policy-making. However, the arrival of democracy brought aboutvisibility and recognition of a range of political claims that the state could not ignore.New claims had to struggle with those interest groups-like the Catholic Church-whosemain concern was to preserve its historical privileges within the educational sector.Nevertheless, this conditioned relative autonomy of the state does not ensure the statelegitimation capacity. Actually, the state agenda is constantly subject to political contes-tation. Interestingly enough, the state does not adopt a clear conjunctural or structuralmode of policy-making (Offe, 1984). Actually, it combines both strategies in order to dealwith the contradictory nature of educational demands. Thus, the state may, for instance,use conjunctural strategies to negotiate with teacher unions, private-school owners,parents associations or the Catholic Church. In a clientelist mode of operation, the stateresponds, when possible, to different demands. On the other hand, the state certainlyuses a structural mode of policy-making. That is, the state tries to define in advance theneeds of the education system and to channel social groups demands. For the past 15years or so, official educational reform discourses have mostly concentrated on a rhetoricof curriculum change and modernisation. Educational reform has actually become the
  14. 14. NeoliberalEducationandtheLegitimationCrisismain preoccupation of the state and the education sector discourses. Reform rhetoric hasshaped what schools should think and do about. However, and here lies the semiperiph-eral specificity, even the structural mode of state policy-making is largely the result of thelegitimation problems of the state. That is, what causes a change from a reactive to anactive mode of policy-making is educational conflict and the legitimation crisis. Theplurality of the interests of civil society can make it impossible to follow a clientelist modeof operation. Thus, the state develops active strategies to cope with a set of differentproblems.How, therefore, can the semiperipheral state escape from a permanent legitimationcrisis? How does it respond to pressures coming from different interest groups withoutappearing to be partial? Following Santos, the answer to this question may be found inthe distance between the type of regulations produced by the state and its potentialtranslation into real institutional and social practices. In order to cope with a range ofopposed demands and to compensate for its legitimation problems, the semiperipheralstate produces legal measures that are beyond its own fiscal and political capacity. Thatis, the state develops policies and discourses that are closer to central capitalist countries(representing what Santos calls an imageof the centre),but political or economic reasonsprevent its actual fulfilment. The distance between legal regulations and institutionalpractices is managed by what Santos calls the Parallel State. The parallel state worksunder the formal state and its role is to instrumentalise, apply selectively or simply notto implement the law that the formal state has previously approved. While the formalstate develops policies and discourses to carry out an agenda that is largely shaped by itslegitimation problems, the parallel state works in the underground to keep the formalstate apart from political conflict and contestation. The parallel state is actually the arenawhere interest groups can exercise their ability to influence the policy process and caninstrumentalise regulations for their own benefit.Education has been one of the sites where the parallel state has been more active. Forinstance, since the beginning of the 1980s, the Spanish state has developed a regulativeframework to set the conditions under which private schools are allowed to receive publicfunding. These include a range of aspects like student admission policy, non-user fees atthe compulsory level, co-education or school participation structure. Although theregulative framework is clear, the actual fulfilment of legal conditions is frequentlyoverlooked by school inspection. Most private schools receiving public money charge feesand are highly selective in their admission policy. Regulations are thereby instrumen-talised with the state acquiescence. Another example of parallel state intervention maybe found in a number of promises that are constantly postponed. These include aspectslike a rise in teacher salaries, more resources to public schools or more pre-school places.How does the current context of global neoliberal policies affect this mode of statepolicy-making? Does the semiperipheral state adopt the neoliberal political rationalitydescribed by Robertson and Dale to manage its legitimation problems? There is not aneasy and immediate answer to these questions. However, recent evidence suggests that,rather than converting its discourses and policies into a neoliberal political rationality, thesemiperipheral state integrates certain aspects of the global-neoliberal rationale into itsspecific mode of state operation. On the one hand, the state is not always forced toproduce a neoliberal political rationality because many aspects of what neoliberal policiesaim to achieve are in fact already operating. The clearest example of this are educationalmarkets. The size and the power of the private school sector (the largest in Europe at thenon-university level) and the absence of real control on school choice policies-which isitself a policy-makes it unnecessary to develop strong market-oriented policies and171
  15. 15. 172 X. Bonaldiscourses. That is, the real lack of control on how subsidised private schools developschool admissions policy (discretionary criteria to include or exclude new pupils)produces an informal market. So, although subsidised private school must follow thesame rules as state schools in a number of policy areas, the lack of accountabilitytransforms a regulated dual system of private and state schools into an unequaleducational market where the state provides funding for a number of schools that canbe socially and economically very selective. In these circumstances, rather than develop-ing a neoliberal political rationality, the semiperipheral state is forced to use compensa-tory legitimation discourses to reduce the unequal effects of a defactoeducational market.On the other hand, a purely neoliberal political rationality may not always beadequate within an educational policy agenda largely shaped by the need to manageconflictive interests. For instance, policies and discourses that celebrate the virtues ofdecentralisation may provoke problems of national unity and social cohesion, and mayalso weaken the control capacity of the state over regional educational policies (a priorityof the central government agenda). Another example is teachers accountability. Whilethere have been some attempts to develop schools and teachers work evaluation, thesehave been very soft compared with the accountability system developed in, for instance,the UK. This can be explained by the potential danger that a strong system of teachersevaluation would entail in terms of political conflict and, overall, in terms of introducingdifferentiation within a profession that the Spanish State has permanently intended tokeep as homogeneous as possible in order to avoid regional differences in teachersalaries.Certainly, it is also the case that neoliberal political rationality has been introduced ineducational policy-making, but this has only happened when that political rationality hasnot damaged the legitimation problems of the semiperipheral state. For instance, thereare educational discourses and policies that stimulate the role of educational communityand the development of school autonomy, which are aspects that neoliberal politicalrationality has appropriated as part of its virtues. These policies have become a usefulstrategy for the state to reduce its economic and political burden. They have actuallycontributed to managing its legitimation problems while the state has been able to avoidthe potential conflict that these policies may carry. Thus, in this case, a discourse basedon individual autonomy and less bureaucratic control operates as a strategic instrumentto manage the problems of state legitimacy. However, it is so because that strategy fitsinto the specific context of the semiperipheral state policy agenda. That means thatneoliberal political rationality does not carry a set of properties that have an embeddedpower to shape peoples consciousness and practices. Rather, it only does it when certainconditions are met, which in this case are clearly related to the mode of intervention ofthe semiperipheral state.Let us now briefly analyse the aspect of social control compared with the legitimationproblems of the state. As this section has shown, the management of legitimationproblems cannot be reduced to the problem of ensuring social control and social orderin society, although of course problems of social control erode the states legitimationcapacity. The legitimation problems of the semiperipheral state in education arecomplex, leading from different contradictions. This implies a very flexible and, at thesame time, quite contradictory mode of crisis management. Neoliberal rationalitybecomes another resource to be used by the state rather than a new and incontestablediscourse to legitimate its action.Now, it is certainly the case that, in present times, capitalist states are facing increasingproblems of social control and social order caused by the uneven effects of neoliberal
  16. 16. NeoliberalEducationand theLegitimationCrisiseconomic and social policies. Of course, semiperipheral states are not immune to this.The state is facing increasing problems in managing social exclusion and violence causedby market failure. Thus, semiperipheral states also develop local states of emergency, todeal with these type of problems. These policies may have a legitimatory effect as far asthey serve to locate, label, and sometimes remove those individuals, groups or eveninstitutions that can interfere with the normal market-delivery of wealth. Within Spanisheducation, for example, the state has responded to the pressures of a number of publicsecondary school teachers that sought to separate the most conflictive and low-achievingstudents from the ordinary classrooms. The state has responded to that pressure byproviding external school units and by allowing the schools to organise and teachdifferent curricula to those problematic students, thus silencing teachers voices.However, there are some circumstances under which the use of local states ofemergency although it can solve social control problems, does actually erode thelegitimation capacity of the state. The clearest example is provided by the predictableeffect that a growing use of local states of emergency has on the concentration ofpoverty, violence and disruption into specific areas. By labelling groups and zones, thestate increases the segregation of society, which in turn produces social and racialconflict. Every Western society has a number of examples of urban areas that havebecome sites of social conflict. These are places in which teachers are not willing to workand where many parents, rather than engaging in community work, call for greatersegregation to socially differentiate their children from the others.ConclusionThe hegemony of neoliberalism as an economic doctrine to orient policy-making isaffecting education as other areas of public sector intervention. This paper has focusedon the consequences that the adoption of a neoliberal agenda is having on the statelegitimation problems and on the management of those problems. As it has been argued,the re-structuring of the state role in education caused by globalisation and neoliberalismalters the sources and the nature of the state legitimation problems, and also implieschanges in the type of political rationality needed to manage those problems. This articlehas reviewed the arguments that sustain these changes. From a source of legitimationproblems that, under the KWS, were based on state responsibility for the outcomes ofthe education system in terms of social mobility and labour productivity, the adoption ofa neoliberal agenda based on the rhetoric of market benefits transfers the sources oflegitimation problems to the question of the inefficiency of the trickle-down effect todeliver opportunities to individuals. The neoliberal political rationality, as described byRobertson and Dale, with its emphasis in possessive individualism and self-entrepreneu-rialism, becomes a useful rhetoric to make individuals and communities responsible fortheir decisions and for the outcomes of those decisions. This rationality serves the stateby depoliticising educational decisions, and therefore reducing its political burden.However, since market delivery mechanisms cause exclusion and dislocation, the neolib-eral state is forced to use local states of emergency to manage problems of social controland social cohesion.While these arguments provide the necessary analytical tools to understand themechanisms through which globalisation and neoliberalism have impacted on thechanges in educational policy-making and on state political rationality, this article hasargued that it is necessary to take a further step to understand how those mechanismsare recontextualised in specific national education systems. To illustrate this, the paper173
  17. 17. 174 X. Bonalhas focused on semiperipheral states to observe how national characteristics and aspecific mode of state intervention mediate in the process of adopting a neoliberal agendaand in the legitimation problems of the state. The importance of legitimation problemsin shaping the educational agenda and the specific contradictions faced by the semipe-ripheral state in the policy-making process are important factors in the recontextualisa-tion process of neoliberal political rationality. Thus, neoliberal political rationality is notsimply adopted by the state to manage its legitimation problems. Rather, it is thelegitimation problems of the semiperipheral state that mainly explain which aspects ofthe neoliberal political rationality are incorporated into the state rhetoric and policies,and which ones are simply excluded or even reconstructed. The recontextualisation levelof analysis becomes crucial to understand how hegemonic processes, like neoliberalism,are locally adapted or, indeed, how they can be resisted and contested.AcknowledgementsI am especially grateful to Susan Robertson and Roger Dale for their insightfulcomments on earlier versions of this paper. I also want to thank the comments made byAlex Patramanis, Mario Novelli and the two anonymous reviewers.Correspondence:Xavier Bonal, Department of Sociology, Autonomous University ofBarcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain; email: xavier.bonal@uab.esNOTES[1] Foran analysisof the mechanismsof influencethroughwhichglobalisationimpactson education,see Dale(1999).[2] See Tikly(2001) for an applicationof Held et al.s typology to the globalisationand education debate.[3] Despite the very interestof its content, the purpose of this articledoes not make necessarya concretedescriptionof the five formsof the local statesof emergency.That descriptionis includedin Robertsonand Dale (2002, pp. 471-479).[4] For instance,the state has actuallydevelopedstrategiesto eithergive statusand recognitionor to ignorespecificinterest groups (teacherunions, private school representatives,etc.) (Bonal & Gonzalez, 1999).REFERENCESAGLIETTA,M. (1998) Capitalismat the turn of the century:regulation theory and the challenge of socialchange, NewLeftReview,232, pp. 41-90.BONAL,X. (1995)Curriculumchangeas a formof educationalpolicylegitimation:the case of Spain,InternationalStudiesin SociologyofEducation,5 (2), pp. 203-220.BONAL,X. (2000)Interestgroupsand the state in contemporarySpanisheducationpolicy,JournalofEducationPolicy,15 (2), pp. 201-216.BONAL,X. & GONZALEZ,I. (1999)Sociedadcivily politicaeducativaactual,in:J. SUBIRATS(Ed.)ExistesociedadcivilenEspana?Responsabilidadescolectivasy valorespziblicos(Madrid,Fundaci6nEncuentro).BONAL,X. & RAMBLA,X. (1996) Is there a semiperipheraltype of schooling?State, social movements andeducationin Spain, 1970-1994, MediterraneanJournalofEducationalStudies,1 (1), pp. 13-27.CERNY,P. G. (1997) Paradoxesof the competitionstate:the dynamicof politicalglobalisation,GovernmentandOpposition,32 (2), pp. 251-271.CODD,J.,GORDON,L. & HARKER,R. (1997) Education and the role of the state: devolution and controlpost-Picot,in:A. H. HALSEY,H. LAUDER,P. BROWN&A. S. WELLS(Eds)Education,Culture,EconomyandSociety(Oxford,Oxford UniversityPress).DALE,R. (1989) TheStateandEducationPolicy(Buckingham,Open UniversityPress).DALE,R. (1997) The state and the governance of education: an analysis of the restructuringof the
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