Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2001

Illusory Freedoms: Liberalism, Education & the Market

Ruth Jonathan. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997; 244 pp; paper $24.95 CA.
Illusory Freedoms brings together social and educational theory. Its practical focus is the recent neo-liberal approach to the ordering of society and education, analysed here not as direct challenge to the post-war settlement but as the terminus of a neutralist liberalism which understands social good as the maximal exercise of individual autonomy. In showing that public education, as site for the formation of personal aspiration and social possibility, must represent the limiting case for the distribution of collective goods by market principles, Jonathan's analysis turns to relations between freedom and equality, individual and social well-being, the public and the private spheres, the parameters for personal autonomy and the permissible role of the state. This study of the interface between education, politics and society suggests that the unresolved problems of educational theory and policy both require and lend support to an ethical interpretation of liberalism.

Quick Review supplied by publisher.