The Morality and Political Antagonisms of Neoliberal Discourse: Campbell Brown and the Corporatization of Educational Justice

Leon A. Salter, Sean Phelan


Neoliberalism is routinely criticized for its moral indifference, especially concerning the social application of moral objectives. Yet it also presupposes a particular moral code, where acting on the assumption of individual autonomy becomes the basis of a shared moral-political praxis. Using a discourse theoretical approach, this article explores different articulations of morality in neoliberal discourse. We focus on the case of Campbell Brown, the former CNN anchor who reinvented herself from 2012 to 2016 as a prominent charter school advocate and antagonist of teachers unions. We examine the ideological significance of a campaigning strategy that coheres around an image of the moral superiority of corporatized schooling against an antithetical representation of the moral degeneracy of America’s public schools system. In particular, we highlight how Brown attempts to incorporate the fragments of different progressive discourses into a neoliberalized vision of educational justice.   


neoliberalism, discourse, media, public education, charter schools, unions

Full Text: