Other Possible Worlds

Queerness as an Intervention into Neoliberal Success Narratives in Education
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


The rise of neoliberal ideology has had significant implications for education. Scholars from various fields have argued that neoliberal processes have commodified both educational outcomes and the knowledge they yield. The internalization of neoliberal processes by student subjects reflects a similar commodification of the “self” to be marketed to future employers. Educational and other investments in oneself hold the promise of upward social mobility and success in an increasingly competitive workforce. Neoliberal success narratives that underlie curricula transmit this promise and are coincident with a neoliberal demand for normativity. This essay troubles neoliberal success narratives in education that necessitate a normative subject position. The analysis explores what messages about identity and success are present in New Brunswick’s (NB) Personal Development and Career Planning (PDCP) curriculum document, a text that addresses wide-ranging topics including sexual health, self-concept, suicide prevention, and labor market preparation. Non-normative subject positions such as queerness, disability, and race can be used as entry points and interventions into neoliberal success narratives that necessarily demand normative subject positions. This analysis speaks to the consequences and contradictions of neoliberal education in Canada, while pursuing the reclamation of “failure” and “failed subjectivities” as means of combating totalizing neoliberal success narratives. This project is undertaken to redirect blame from non-normative subjects and their perceived “failures” to the constraints of neoliberal capitalism. Ultimately, failure can be employed to imagine other possible worlds, other possible curricula, and other possible trajectories for education.


Education Curriculum studies Queer theory Neoliberalism Disability studies Identity New Brunswick Canada 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Justice EducationUniversity of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education TorontoCanada

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