Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Neoliberal Ideology and the Manufacturing of Educational Needs: Notes on the Transformation of State Power, ISAs, and Higher Education in the Age of Globalization

Dr. Eric J. Weiner.

I will put forth a theoretical analysis of neoliberal ideology, addressing the implications its philosophical principals and ideological practices have on the role of the nation State, public Higher Education, and liberal arts education. Neoliberalism represents a “non-systemic” system; that is, an ideological system of language, thought and behavior that detests and, as Bourdieu argues, wants to destroy “collective structures which may impede the pure market.” As a global economic, political, and cultural force, neoliberalism challenges us to rethink the role of the “modern” nation state. Notions like state sovereignty—as it translates into the economic, political, ideological, and cultural power a nation state has to control what occurs inside and condition what occurs outside of its national borders—must be revised in the face of globalization’s penchant to ignore national borders and interrelate the economies and cultural practices of nation states.

Second, I will discuss how neoliberal globalization manufactures particular needs in the service of specific interests at the local and regional level. From this perspective, neoliberalism’s strength lies not in its ability to reproduce itself per se, but rather in its ability to adjust to the “underdetermined” evolution of its own policies and practices, in large part, by producing, in cooperation with ISAs, a “discourse of needs.” Through this discourse of needs, ISAs and the nation state create a causeway by which neoliberal globalization travels down, affecting the democratic control local and regional agencies have over what needs are met, and by what means.

Lastly, I will consider some of the challenges the neoliberal agenda presents to “progressive” liberal arts programs. One question that frames my analysis of the liberal arts in a neoliberal age is: Do these programs, by pragmatically satisfying educational needs that are manufactured in the service of neoliberal interests, help perpetuate the ideological thinking and apparatuses that went into the creation and normalization of those needs in the first place? This is no small matter if higher education is to play a leadership role in disrupting the hegemony of neoliberalism on one hand and establishing a radically democratic project on the other.


Dr. Eric J. Weiner  (United States)
Assistant Professor of Education
Department of Literacy Faculty of Education
Montclair State University

Eric J. Weiner is an assistant professor of education. His research interests are in media literacy, critical social theory, and critical pedagogy.

  • Neoliberalism
  • Globalization
  • Higher Education
  • Liberal Arts Education
  • Manufacturing of Needs
  • Ideological State Apparatus
  • Nation State

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)