Globalization and the Incorporation of Education
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)
Such is the nature and complexity of the forces involved in globalization that any discussion of its impact upon education raises fundamental issues and is a matter of considerable debate Scholte 2000). The term itself is subject to dispute - whether we take a narrower, economic, focus on the removal of barriers to free trade and the integration of national economies (see for example Stiglitz 2002), or the broader view of a growing interdependence of social processes. However, what is clear is that there has been a significant shift in terms of the 'processes, interconnections and exchanges that are global' (MacGillivray 2006: 6 - emphasis in original) and in motive (the 'ization' of globalization). As MacGillivray (2006: 7) again comments, reserving 'globalization' 'for players and events that deliberately embraced the globe invests the terms with meaning'.
The forces associated with such globalization (whether economic or social) have conditioned the context in which educators operate, and profoundly altered people's experience of both formal and informal education. Schools and colleges have, for example, become sites for branding and the targets of corporate expansion. Many policymakers automatically look to market 'solutions'. The impact and pervasiveness of these forces of globalization also means that they should be a fundamental focus for education and learning - but there are powerful currents running against honest work in this area. In this article we will explore some of what we believe to be the more significant aspects with regard to the practice and experience of education. These include:
- 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.