MARKING A LIMIT OF NEOLIBERALISM: DEMOCRATIC THEORY, ADVERTISING, AND THE CLASSROOM
Buschman, John E.
Mara, Gerald M.
This study is a theoretical exercise in the practical use of democratic theory applied to a paradigmatic case of advertising in the public school classroom. It is practical in the sense that it addresses and frames a contemporary public policy and practice via the question, should we care about this, and if so why? Democracies have historically concerned themselves with the purpose and structure of education since their flourishing and continuation depends upon the attributes of democratic citizens. The contemporary neoliberal environment has fostered and spread the market model to shape public institutions, their functioning and purpose, and it is neoliberalism and its intersection with the democratic function of schools and classrooms that is the focus of this study. Advertising has penetrated American society deeply, up to and including advertising in the classroom during required school time. There are empirical and theoretical critiques and concerns about advertising and the young generally, and in the schools specifically, but these have not substantively affected the practice. This study will establish the historical connection between American democratic thinking and education (Chapter 1), the presence of advertising in the schools (Chapter 2), and the empirical and theoretical critiques of advertising vis-à-vis the young (Chapter 3). The study will then turn to three resources within democratic theory in order to more deeply interrogate the practice (Chapter 4): Tocqueville (section 4.1), communitarianism (section 4.2), and deliberative democracy (section 4.3). The study concludes with an analysis (Chapter 5) of why this practice is of continuing concern, and may even be extended and protected under neoliberal logics.
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