Liberalism, Advanced Liberalism, and the Governmental Policy Challenge in Education

Douglas Brown


Governmentality, as credited to Michel Foucault, was developed later on in the theorist’s life.In Foucault’s understanding of government, or governmentality, our sources of regulation are anchored in the programmes, policies, strategies, methods, thoughts and action of our everyday conduct. Governance becomes more a methodology, a practice or rational way of doing things, affecting the way in which power is exercised over ourselves and others. Thus as governance moves past fixed understandings concerning hierarchical power (state and civil society) subject freedom becomes participant in forms of state organization and regulation. Foucault’s approach towards liberalism begs an analysis rationalizing political and educational forms of governance as such an activity. Here liberalism may be viewed as a reflective way of doing things, a method for rationalizing government practices, in that the state will profit and boost control by actually doing less over a citizenry. Under advanced liberalism (neoliberalism) the pathways of state government and self-government collide with even less frequency. Control then is more characteristically the mandate of the individual as citizens become experts of themselves, exerting rituals of personal regulation over bodies, conduct, and minds. This paper scrutinizes the influences of both liberal and advanced liberal administrative streams in Canadian educational policy, asking stakeholders to think long and hard on what is asked of our profession.


education, Foucault, Governmentality, education policy

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