‘Decentralised’ neoliberalism and/or ‘masked’ re-centralisation? The policy to practice trajectory of Maltese school reform through the lens of neoliberalism and Foucault

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The politics of the later part of the twentieth century have been marked by the emergence of neoliberalism, which has consequently impregnated the global policy climate with neoliberal technologies of government. It is within this political scenario of hegemonic neoliberal discourse that I explore one aspect of school reform in Malta – contrived school networking as mandated by the policy document ‘For All Children to Succeed’ (FACT), issued in 2005, by which Maltese primary and secondary state schools were geographically clustered into 10 colleges. I explore the influence of neoliberalism and the presence/absence of its characteristics, namely, State central control, the ‘empowerment’ agenda and the tension between autonomy and accountability. This is done both through policy analysis and policy reception – I carry out a documentary analysis of FACT and present this together with the leaders’ views, collated from interviews and observation, after being subjected to narrative analysis and interpreted through Foucault’s concepts of discourse and governmentality. Despite the gradual unfolding of the decentralization process, there is a very strong presence of State central control. Besides methodological significance for policy scholarship, this article has particular philosophical implications for educational policy, practice and theory within the infrastructure of globalized neoliberal governmentality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-465
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2016

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