Research: Examining Parental Action under Neoliberal Education Regimes

In a special issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs (November 2019), Bloustein School Associate Professor Julia Sass Rubin, Ryan M. Good Ph.D ’16 (Eastern Mennonite University), and Michelle Fine (City University of New York) advocate for a broader research agenda to examine the roles of parents under regimes of neoliberal education reforms.

“Neoliberal reforms of public education have promoted a role for parents as individual consumers trying to maximize gains for their own children by choosing from a marketplace of schools. A diverse range of scholarship has explored how parents react to this imposed role, challenging neoliberal conceptions of parental choice by revealing the many factors that shape the enrollment decisions parents make and highlighting the ways that existing inequalities are reproduced through systems of market-driven and unregulated “choice.”

A separate emerging literature has examined an alternative role for parents under neoliberal regimes—as collective democratic participants in the pursuit of more equitable conceptions of public education and largely in opposition to neoliberal education policies. In this paper, we review the academic literature examining these two visions of parental action under neoliberalism, identify limitations in the literature on collective parental action in opposition to neoliberal reforms, and outline a set of research questions for scholars to address to help enhance our understanding of this important domain.”