Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Paul Woodford


This study provides an account and comparison of the ways in which neoliberal education reform and resulting music education policy, implementation, and provision were enacted in and responsive to social, historical, and institutional influences in England under Margaret Thatcher’s and John Major’s Conservative governments (1979-1997) and in Ontario, Canada under Mike Harris’ Progressive Conservative government (1995-2003). It traces how global neoliberal economic policy has influenced state education reforms that restructure schooling to produce knowledge workers in response to the global knowledge economy. A conceptual map of neoliberal education is employed to examine the ways in which the governments of England and Ontario reformed their respective elementary and secondary state-funded systems of education. Music education policy development, implementation, and provision in each state are then placed within the wider contexts of these reforms. This study finds that neoliberal education in England and Ontario and the resulting processes and outcomes of music education policy converge and diverge based on the elements of neoliberal education present in reform and the ways in which history, ideology, and politics intersect in each state. It provokes a re-examination of a reified concept of neoliberal education in favour of a more nuanced one responsive to reform locations. Comparative approaches to music education research can both broaden and deepen our knowledge of foreign systems of education while dispelling assumptions, based on experiences with our own educational systems, about the nature of neoliberal education reform and its effects on music education. Recommendations for future research are suggested. Useful tools for future research in music education policy include a conceptual map of neoliberal education.