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Title: Education in 'late' modernity : a critical analysis of New Labour reform, 1997-2007
Author: Eaton, Robert William
ISNI:       0000 0004 2727 9793
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2012
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New Labour entered into government in 1997 with a stated intention to develop a new consensus in education. This was to be practical rather than ideological in its basis, and was to provide a modernising and radical approach to reform that would go beyond the debates of the past. This study assesses the basis for this new consensus and the extent to which it appeared in New Labour’s agenda of education reform between 1997 and 2007. Discussion draws attention to the dichotomised nature of debate that existed surrounding the future direction for education reform between market-oriented or democracy-based approaches, contextualised in the ideological bases of the social democratic Left and the New Right. However, the weaknesses of each suggested a need to develop alternative perspectives and strategies for the future. Drawing upon the work of Anthony Giddens the possibilities for such an alternative approach are explored, pointing in particular to the nature of the contemporary period as one of ‘late’ modernity. Here the possibilities presented, as well as the risks created, present an urgent need for new approaches to government and individual life. New Labour’s attachment to Giddens’s ideas are examined through their take-up of the Third Way as a label for a project of modernisation. Analysis of the developing education policy agenda considers how change and continuity in the approach to reform was informed by the Third Way. Drawing upon an extensive research literature the limitations, conflicts, and tensions in this Third Way approach are also assessed. It is argued that whilst New Labour’s policy agenda contained modernising appeal and potential, it failed to establish itself as a coherent new framework. Thus, it also failed to build a basis for radical reform. The study concludes by arguing that a broader Giddensian perspective on ‘late’ modernity offers potential in a contribution to the nature and necessity of future reform. However, whilst it guards against simplistic approaches to utopian prospects, it must similarly recognise the complexity of realising such hope in practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available