Mark Olssen

Mark Olssen
University of Surrey · School of Social Sciences

PhD FAcSS

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61
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Publications

Publications (61)
Book
Full-text available
This edited collection combines quantitative content and critical discourse analysis to reveal a shift in the rhetoric used as part of the neoliberal agenda in education. It does so by analysing, uncovering and commenting on language as a central tool of education. Focussing on vocabulary, metaphors, and slogans used in strategy documents, advertis...
Chapter
This paper starts by considering twentieth century attacks of the idea of the public good from liberal quarters: from social choice theory; public choice theory; and from political liberalism, with reference to Kenneth Arrow, James Buchanan, Joseph Schumpeter and John Rawls. Despite a prolonged attack against ideas of the good from liberal economis...
Chapter
The chapter starts by restating the core theoretical thesis in my previous writings on neoliberalism, drawing attention, specifically, to the differences between liberalism and neoliberalism, most essentially concerning the principle of the active or positive state that I have claimed characterizes neoliberal governmentality globally, entailing as...
Book
Full-text available
For over two decades now, neoliberalism has been at the forefront of discussions not only in the economy and finance but has infiltrated our vocabulary in a number of areas as diverse as governance studies, criminology, health care, jurisprudence, education etc. Its economistic language associated with the promotion of effectiveness and efficiency...
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Marshall (1995) once argued that Wittgenstein’s social constructivist view of mathematics is not ‘idealistic’, ‘relativistic’ or ‘subjectivistic’ but rather is ‘non-idealistic and objective’. Wittgenstein is not idealistic because he attacks the prioritizing of mental states over linguistic accompaniments of those internal states. What he emphasize...
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Although complexity research takes its origins from its applications in physics, chemistry and mathematics and the ‘hard’ sciences, undergoing its formative development in the early and mid-twentieth century, during the second half of the twentieth century it has exerted an effect on the social sciences as well.
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The paper will start with a short account of neoliberalism where I will survey the arguments offered in support of neoliberal reforms made initially by James Buchanan and the Public Choice School. Many scholars, especially those coming from a poststructuralist or post-Marxist position, see neoliberalism, as Troeger (2014, p. 1) has put it, “as a ki...
Article
This article constitutes an extended review essay of Michael Foucault's Language, Madness and Desire: On Literature, Philippe Artièries, Jean-François Bert, Mathieu Potte-Bonneville, and Judith Revel (eds.), Robert Bononno (tr.), University of Minnesota Press, 2015, 158 pp. A shorter version of this article was published as a book review in Notre D...
Article
Full-text available
It is challenging to define who Michel Foucault was, whether he was a theorist, a philosopher, a historian, or a critic. In many of his books, and essays, Foucault denied being a philosopher or a theorist, nor did he want to be called a writer or a prophet. He described himself as an experimenter by saying that his work simply consists of ‘philosop...
Article
Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease in which depigmented skin results from destruction of skin melanocytes, with strong epidemiologic association with several other autoimmune diseases. In previous linkage and genome-wide association studies (GWAS1, GWAS2), we identified 27 vitiligo susceptibility loci in patients of European (EUR) ancestry. We carri...
Article
Full-text available
A performance-based funding system like the United Kingdom’s ‘Research Excellence Framework’ (REF) symbolizes the re-rationalization of higher education according to neoliberal ideology and New Public Management technologies. The REF is also significant for disclosing the kinds of behaviour that characterize universities’ response to government dem...
Article
Drawing on Foucault’s elaboration of neoliberalism as a positive form of state power, the ascendancy of neoliberalism in higher education in Britain is examined in terms of the displacement of public good models of governance, and their replacement with individualised incentives and performance targets, heralding new and more stringent conceptions...
Chapter
Education, philosophy, and politics can be seen as the tripos in Western tradition, defining the canon and practices of political and educational institutions (Peters 2012). In the light of recent educational research, it could also be argued that the relationship between politics and education is gaining particular popularity. Various internationa...
Article
Full-text available
This article is based on an interview conducted with Mark Olssen in October 2014, and the subsequent discussions. These conversations invited Olssen to reflect on his experiences of neoliberalism as a practising academic who has worked in the UK for some 14 years, and also to comment as a researcher and writer who is well known for his work on neol...
Article
Full-text available
Although this paper constitutes a revision of a paper originally published in 2007 [see note 1), the editors are pleased to republish this paper due to its theoretical importance for the critique of Marxism as well the interest it creates for establishing the possibility of a new political economy based upon the work of Michel Foucault. The paper d...
Chapter
Full-text available
Although complexity research takes its origins from its applications in physics, chemistry and mathematics and the ‘hard’ sciences, undergoing its formative development in the 1970s, during the last two decades it has exerted an effect on the social sciences as well. One of the earliest centres for complexity research was the Santa Fe in the US whe...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, I want to suggest that it is through the elaboration of the concept of discourse that the differences between Foucault and thinkers like Habermas, Hegel and Marx can best be understood. Foucault progressively develops a conception of discourse as a purely historical category that resists all reference to transcendental principles o...
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In the second half of the nineteenth century, a group of philosophers, sociologists, economists and journalists, systematically adapted classical liberal arguments to make them relevant to the appalling social conditions generated by the development of capitalism. Their writings contained distinctive models of society, of human nature, and of chang...
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Michel Foucault's work has had a major impact on the social sciences and a smaller, yet growing impact on studies in education. This chapter traces the influence of his work in scholarship on the internal logics and development of psychology and sociology, to illustrate its significance for understanding the production and effects of subjectivity a...
Article
The Credit Crunch of 2008 has exposed the fallacies of neoliberalism and its thesis of the self-regulating market, which has been ascendant in both economic theory and policy over the last 30 years. In moving beyond neoliberalism, social democratic arguments are once again coming to the fore; however, in the context of the 21st century, they will n...
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This article explores the affinities and parallels between Foucault's Nietzschean view of history and models of complexity developed in the physical sciences in the twentieth century. It claims that Foucault's rejection of structuralism and Marxism can be explained as a consequence of his own approach which posits a radical ontology whereby the con...
Article
The welfare state was characterised by two central principles: universality and equality.It can be argued that the development of education in New Zealand was shaped and maintained by both these ideals.The public benefits of education were not, however, simply the sum of individual private benefits, for norms such as political or civic tolerance, l...
Chapter
Marxism, we are told by politicians and the popular press, is dead. The Left, as a historical movement tied to the labor movement, is frozen over, caught between the collapse of actually existing communism in Eastern Europe and the triumph of global market forces. Union membership in the traditional industrial economy in the UK is dwindling as mult...
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This article outlines Foucault’s conception of critique in relation to his writings on Kant. In that Kant saw Enlightenment as a process of release from the status of immaturity in that we accept someone else’s authority to lead us in areas where the use of reason is called for, it is claimed in this article that Foucault’s notion of critique revea...
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This paper argues that Foucault’s conception of governmentality provides a powerful tool for understanding learning and education and links the organisation of learning to both politics and economics in developed Western societies. What is offered by Foucault’s conception, I will argue, is a new version of superstructural sociology, which provides...
Chapter
After Foucault’s death in 1984, JüHabermas commented that “within the circle of the philosophers of my generation who diagnose our times, Foucault has most lastingly influenced the zeitgeist” (Habermas, 1986, p. 107). Given that Habermas was for many years one of Foucault’s staunchest critics, this was tribute indeed. Foucault was not only to becom...
Article
This article seeks to demonstrate a particular application of Foucault's philosophical approach to a particular issue in education: that of personal autonomy. The paper surveys and extends the approach taken by James Marshall in his book Michel Foucault: Personal autonomy and education. After surveying Marshall's writing on the issue I extend Marsh...
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Whole issue. Incl. abstracts, bib. The ascendancy of neoliberalism and the associated discourses of 'new public management', during the 1980s and 1990s has produced a fundamental shift in the way universities and other institutions of higher education have defined and justified their institutional existence. The traditional professional culture of...
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Full-text available
This article explores the relationship of Foucault to Marxism. Although he was often critical of Marxism, Foucault's own approach bears striking parallels to Marxism, as a form of method, as an account of history, and as an analysis of social structure. Like Marxism, Foucault represents social practices as transitory and all knowledge and intellect...
Article
Full-text available
This article examines the role of the state and of education in relation to globalisation and argues that it is not a question of globalisation or the nation‐state, but of globalisation and the nation‐state. In order to understand how globalisation might be represented as having both positive and negative effects on states, two forms of globalisati...
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This paper attempts to develop a more sophisticated notion of multiculturalism in Britain. It starts by examining the philosophical basis of the Crick Report on citizenship education to resolve the theoretical tension between liberal and multicultural approaches to the subject. To achieve this resolution, it compares the Crick Report to the Parekh...
Book
‘Education policy is now a global matter and all the more complex for that. Mark Olssen, John Codd and Ann-Marie O’Neill do us an invaluable service in producing a carefully theorised guide to current issues and key concerns - this is an important, erudite and very practical book’ - Stephen J Ball, Education Policy Research Unit, University of Lond...
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This article starts by reviewing the negative account of utopian thinking in dominant liberal western political theory, through the positing of a link between utopianism and totalitarianism, as present in the writings of liberal writers like Hayek, Popper, Berlin and others. As such, this article constitutes a critique of the liberal theories of ut...
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This article traces Foucault's distinctive commitment to ‘post-structuralism’ through tracing the affinities and departures from structuralism. It is argued that under the infuence of Nietzsche, Foucault's approach marks a distinct break with structuralism in several crucial respects. What results is a materialist post-structuralism which is also d...
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Rather than advocating a variant of ethical dandyism revolving around individualistic withdrawal and the aesthetic intensification of sexual pleasures, this article argues that Foucault's ethical and political ouvre can best be represented as a form of nonmonistic communitariamsm termed "thin" communitarianism. In this model, difference and unity a...
Article
This paper examines the philosophical tradition of ‘ethical liberalism’ from its emergence as a coherent response to classical liberal individualism in the 19th century, through to contemporary formulations of the thesis. It seeks to assess its relevance for understanding neo-liberal policy restructuring in education today. The first section of the...
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This articles examines the work of contemporary British educationist Ruth Jonathon in order to assess its implications for New Zealand educational restructuring. During the 1990s Jonathon has published numerous analyses of the philosophical assumptions upon which New Right policies have been based, with specific reference to their educational effec...
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Radical constructivism has had a major influence on present‐day education, especially in the teaching of science and mathematics. The article provides an epistemological profile of constructivism and considers its strengths and weaknesses from the standpoint of its educational implications. It is argued that there are two central problems with cons...
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This paper critically examines the crisis of welfare liberalism with specific reference to New Zealand education in order to speculatively reappraise the central principles upon which a revived welfare state could be constructed and in terms of which publicly provided education can be justified. Specifically it will seek to achieve these goals thro...
Article
It is mainly through schools that the profession of educational psychology is maintained. What assumptions are made in the training of such people? Critically, as Olssen argues, they are assumptions which have formed the basis of psychology itself and were historically embedded in discursive traditions at the turn of the century, traditions which c...
Article
I would like to thank Joshua John Schweiso for his close reading of my paper ‘Science and Individualism in Educational Psychology’. While I am impressed by his obvious understanding of the history and current literature in educational psychology as well as his wide understanding of social theory and sociology as it pertains to educational psycholog...
Article
Full-text available
I want to suggest that it is through the elaboration of the concept of discourse that the differences between Foucault and thinkers like Habermas, Hegel and Marx can best be understood. Foucault progressively develops a conception of discourse as a purely historical category that resists all reference to transcendental principles of unity – whether...
Article
Full-text available
In bicameral parliamentary systems, the main domestic duty of the Upper House is to scrutinise legislative drafts passed forward from the Lower House. However, international diplomatic duties also play a significant role in developing international relations between national parliaments and can be considered as another emerging path in developing i...
Article
Full-text available
This article explores the relationship of Foucault to Marxism. Although he was often critical of Marxism, Foucault's own approach bears striking parallels to Marxism, as a form of method, as an account of history, and as an analysis of social structure. Like Marxism, Foucault represents social practices as transitory and all knowledge and intellect...