CHIEF findings presented at the Social Policy Association Annual Conference

Dr Katherine Tonkiss attended the SPA conference hosted by Durham University where she presented her paper on

Cultural Education and the Good Citizen: A Systematic Analysis of a Neo-Liberal Communitarian Policy Trend

The paper examines the conceptualisation and operationalisation of cultural education for young people within UK policy over the past decade. To do so, it analyses the findings of a systematic review of relevant policy documents published between 2007 and 2018. The paper shows that this policy field has been strongly shaped by the intervention of a neo-liberal economic logic, with policies aimed at constructing neo-liberal subjects, responsible for their own choices and capable of self-regulation to become productive contributors to the national economy with little dependence on the state. It also demonstrates that cultural education has been informed by a strongly nationalist interpretation of culture, aiming to instil in young people a strong understanding of national culture as a source of binding sentiment in light of the perceived challenges associated with diverse, multicultural communities. As such, the paper argues that cultural education policy has been used to promote a particular vision of the ‘good’ citizen through a neo-liberal communitarian model of governance. This model combines the individualising logics of neo-liberalism which emphasise responsibility and self-regulation with the collective focus of communitarianism on shared culture and values. These threads are deployed simultaneously to responsibilise citizens in order to reduce the perceived burden they present to the state, and to police nationalist parameters of inclusion and exclusion.