Neoliberalism and the Disposability of Youth Culture

By John Kerr.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The failed neoliberal ideologies that have dominated the global economic and social policies of the U.S. have also dominated the curricular decisions that have been implemented within institutions of public higher education. Because these curriculums have privileged market values over democratic values, institutions of public higher education have now become the training grounds for corporate America, rather than public sites of conflict and struggle where diverse populations of students can become engaged in the collective work required of citizens to protect and to preserve the imperatives of a vibrant democracy.
The commodification of public higher education has been responsible for the development of the small bore curriculums that have increasingly instrumentalized and vocationalized learning environments into “skills” courses, where a thoroughly technocratic rationality has reduced the role that students serve in the classroom to that of a de-humanizing, mechanical exercise in rote memorization, mimicry and imitation. Under such conditions, students are prevented from gaining the agency necessary to investigate and to interrogate the power structures that impose their authority into what constitutes legitimate knowledge. Because their own social/cultural/political histories have been denied, these curriculums have eliminated any opportunity for students to become engaged in debate, dissent, or to explore possible theories of resistance that would empower them with the agency necessary to be critically active citizens, as opposed to obedient, conformed, passive workers.

Keywords: Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Pedagogy

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 8, pp.71-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 604.497KB).

Dr. John Kerr

Associate Professor, Humanities Department, Division of Liberal Arts and Sciences, State Universtity of New York, Richmondville, New York, USA

I have taught courses in freshman composition, American literature and basic reading/writing at the State University of New York for over thirty years. My writing and research has investigated the relationship of literacy to knowledge, and how the production of knowledge becomes inextricably related to power. My work has been self-reflective and self-conscious of my role as a working-class, public intellectual.

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