Here we draw out some of the profound implications of globalization for education and the work of educators. As part of this we also look at some of the issues surrounding the increased presence of corporations and branding in education.
contents: introduction · globalization, commodification and the corporate takeover of education ·globalization and the governance of education · de-localization and changing technologies and orientations in education · branding, globalization and learning to be consumers · conclusion · further reading and references · links · how to cite this article
see, also, globalization
To allow the market mechanism to be the sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society... Robbed on the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighbourhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed. (Karl Polanyi 1957: 73, quoted in Leys 2001: 4)
- Commodification and the corporate takeover of education.
- The threat to the autonomy of national educational systems by globalization.
- De-localization and changing technologies and orientations in education.
- Branding, globalization and learning to be consumers.
Commodification and the corporate takeover of education
The reconfiguration of the goods and services in question so that they can be priced and sold.The inducing of people to want to buy them.The transformation of the workforce from one working for collective aims with a service ethic to one working to produce profits for owners of capital and subject to market discipline.The underwriting of the risks to capital by the state. (2001: 4)
At a certain point in what had been a steady, slow expansion, large numbers of people started to feel they really had better get a degree, because not doing so would be such a bad move. The first wave set off another and so on. (Wolf 2002: 178)
The real danger is that unthinking adoption of the private sector model prevents the development of an approach to management in the public services in general or to the social services in particular based on their distinctive purposes, conditions and tasks. (Stewart 1992: 27)
Globalization and the governance of education
The question we are facing now is, To what extent is the educational endeavor affected by processes of globalization that are threatening the autonomy of national educational systems and the sovereignty of the nation-state as the ultimate ruler in democratic societies? At the same time, how is globalization changing the fundamental conditions of an educational system premised on fitting into a community, a community characterized by proximity and familiarity? (Burbules and Torres 2000)
The more overtly and the more directly politicians attempt to organize education for economic ends, the higher the likelihood of waste and disappointment... What marks (British politicians) from their international counterparts is simply the speed with which, in our hugely centralized system, they launch one educational broadside after another.In the process we have almost forgotten that education ever had any purpose other than to promote growth. (Wolf 2002: xiii)
The initiation, or acceleration, of the commodification of public services was... a logical result of government's increasingly deferential attitude towards market forces in the era of the globalized economy... A good deal of what was needed [for the conversion of non-market spheres into profitable fields for investment] was accomplished by market forces themselves, with only periodic interventions by the state, which then appeared as rational responses to previous changes. (Leys 2001: 214)
De-localization and changing technologies and orientations in education
It requires a shift in our thinking about the fundamental organizational unit of education, from the school, an institution where learning is organized, defined and contained, to the learner, an intelligent agent with the potential to learn from any and all of her encounters with the world around her. (Reported in The Economist, October 9, 1999, page 42)
Branding, globalization and learning to be consumers
It is time to recognize that the true tutors of our children are not schoolteachers or university professors but filmmakers, advertising executives and pop culture purveyors. Disney does more than Duke, Spielberg outweighs Stanford, MTV trumps MIT. (Benjamin R. Barber quoted by Giroux 2000: 15)
... they carry with them an educational agenda of their own. As with all branding projects, it is never enough to tag the school with a few logos. Having gained a foothold, the brand managers are now doing what they have done in music, sports and journalism outside the schools: trying to overwhelm their host, to grab the spotlight. They are fighting for their brands to become not the add-on but the subject of education, not an elective but the curriculum. (Klein 2001: 89)
High ideals tend to fade away as State-provided finances decline and as the State 'encourages' closer partnerships between education and industry. Educationally sound and attractively packaged curriculum materials fill the hole in the resources budget of schools and offer technologically sophisticated 'solutions' to the pedagogical problems of overworked teachers. These pressures have created a conflict of interest between schools' mandate to educate, and their moral and ethical duties to protect children from exploitation by consumer culture. Corporations have recognized and taken advantage of this dilemma. (op. cit.)
The main role of the teacher-turned-classroom manager is to legitimate through mandated subject matter and educational practices a market-based conception of the learner as simply a consumer of information. (Giroux 2000: 92)
Modern man is alienated from himself, from his fellow men, and from nature. He has been transformed into a commodity, experiences his life forces as an investment which must bring him the maximum profit obtainable under existing market conditions. (Fromm 1957: 67)