Educating the national citizen in neoliberal times: from the multicultural self to the strategic cosmopolitan


Department of Geography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA email:


The paper is a broad, comparative investigation of shifts in the educational rhetoric and policy of three countries over the past two decades. Using England, Canada and the United States as case studies, I argue that the spirit of multiculturalism in education has shifted from a concern with the formation of tolerant and democratic national citizens who can work with and through difference, to a more strategic use of diversity for competitive advantage in the global marketplace. This shift is directly linked with and helps to facilitate the entrenchment of neoliberalism as it supports a privatization agenda, reduces the costs of social reproduction for the government, and aids in the constitution of subjects oriented to individual survival and/or success in the global economy.