Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Sociology

Supervisor

Scott Schaffer

Abstract

Contemporary understandings of postsecondary education systems are informed by a globalization discourse that incorporates human capital theory to explain the economic importance of postsecondary education institutions in the global economy. In this study, the influences of human capital theory and of liberal education in Ontario’s postsecondary education discourse are examined through a content analysis of government-commissioned reviews of Ontario’s postsecondary education system from 1962 to 2005. In particular, I hypothesize that instances of human capital theory would increase over that time period while instances of liberal education would decrease. The results of the content analysis clearly demonstrate that instances of human capital theory in Ontario’s postsecondary education discourse increased over time, while instances of liberal education remained fairly consistent. I argue that these results can be explained by exploring the relationship between human capital theory and neoliberalism, particularly neoliberal views of government spending.


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