The Other Side of Education: A Lacanian Critique of Neoliberal Education Policy


  • Matthew Clarke University of New South Wales


Education policy, psychoanalysis, neoliberalism, politics


Written in the context of the global hegemony of neoliberal education policy agendas, with their emphases on standards, accountability and choice, this paper has two related foci. In the first section I explore Lacanian ideas of extimacy, excess and Möbius subjectivity to subvert a simplistic self-other dichotomy and briefly consider some implications of this subversion for neoliberal educational policy. In the second part of the paper, I extend the critique of neoliberal education policy by examining it through the lens of Lacan’s four discourses. This involves viewing neoliberal policy agendas in terms of “discourses of mastery,” before turning to “discourses of thinking otherwise” as a way of thinking what “the other side of education” might look like.

Author Biography

Matthew Clarke, University of New South Wales

Matthew Clarke is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

His research interests include teacher formation and teacher identity, as well as critical policy studies.



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