Personalisation and de-schooling: uncommon trajectories in contemporary education policy

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‘Personalized learning’ has become a popular term within education policy
and practice in England, and is part of wider moves towards the ‘personalization’ of public services and the promotion of personal responsibility within social policy discourse – including education, welfare, health and
adult social care. In analysing personalization in education policy as a discursive
formation, this paper visits some of the tensions, ambiguities and
apparently ‘uncommon’ trajectories in contemporary education policy,
including its association with the ‘de-schooling’ movement. It is argued
that personalization cannot be understood simply as the most recent incarnation
of the neoliberalization of education policy, nor as a politically neutral
set of learning practices. In conclusion, unpacking personalization as
a generative discourse enables us to understand the continuities and contradictions
in New Labour social policy without relying on the sometimes
heroic, revelatory and emancipatory intentions of critical analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-397
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • discourse
  • person-centred policy
  • neo-liberalism
  • moralization
  • learning


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