Revisions to rationality: the translation of ‘new knowledges’ into policy under the Coalition Government

Ian McGimpsey, Alice Bradbury, Diego Santori

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    This article gives an account of the use of knowledges from emerging scientific fields in education and youth policy making under the Coalition government (2010-15) in the UK. We identify a common process of ‘translation’ and offer three illustrations of policy-making in the UK that utilise diverse knowledges produced in academic fields (neuroscience, network theory and well-being). This production of ‘new knowledges’ in policy contexts allows for the identification of sites of policy intervention. This process of translation underlies a series of diverse revisions of the rational subject of policy. Collectively, these revisions amount to a change in policy-making and the emergence of a different subject of neoliberal policy. This subject is not an excluded alterity to an included rational subject of neoliberalism, but a ‘plastic subject’ characterised by its multiplicity. The plastic subject does not contradict the rational subject as central to neoliberal policy-making, but diversifies it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)908-925
    Number of pages18
    JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
    Issue number6
    Early online date4 Jul 2016
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jul 2016


    • Rationality
    • Networks
    • Neuroscience
    • Well-Being
    • neoliberalism


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