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Localization of Global Discourse and the Breakdown of the Washington Consensus (WC): A Case Study of Korean Higher Education Reform (1993-2012) Open Access


Other title
Neo-liberal education policy reform
Neo-Gramscian approach
Transnational historical materialism
Korean higher education
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Jeong, Moon Sook
Supervisor and department
Kachur, Jerrold. L. (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Samek,Toni (School of Library and Information Studies)
Fisher, Donald (Educational Studies/University British Columbia)
Schultz, Lynette (Educational Policy Studies)
Wimmer, Randy (Educational Policy Studies)
Abdi, Ali (Educational Policy Studies/UofA, Educational Studies/UBC)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In my dissertation paper, I sought the political implications of neo-liberal education reform with the case of recent Korean higher education reforms. I first explored the macro-causal relationship of neo-liberal higher education reform in transnational social relations, and then the political interplay of local state with regard to internalizing global discourse for higher education reform. By doing so, I attempted to break through the taken-for-granted ideological acceptance in recent Korean higher education reforms. I collected and classified text data by selected research methods: document analysis, and content analysis. Korea was chosen as a case study and historical-comparative analysis helped me investigate the political elements of Korean higher education policy reform. For the critical inquiry of qualitative research, I scrutinized policy document texts with a critical discourse analysis. I utilized transnational historical materialism and neo-Gramscian approach to lay out the way of ideological communication between a global hegemonic power and an individual state. Political sociology of education and state theory were delineated to analyze the state behaviour that interacts with both external and internal pressures in setting up neo-liberal policy reform. My research finding is that the basic framework for neo-liberal higher education reform was ideologically shared between international organizations and Korea as a result of the political dynamics of transnational capitalist social relations; however, the global discourse was locally developed based upon local politics of Korea. That is to say, the Korean state– as a political entity of competing social force–determines the level of neo-liberal ideology permeation in reform policies –whether to benefit a global hegemonic ideology or to attenuate it while allowing counter-hegemonic value. As my research examines a policy discourse and its political implications, I wish my research contribute to robust discussions of political impact on educational policy reform by stimulating local policy makers, politicians, educational researchers and stakeholders.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
An abstract version of this thesis has been accepted for publication. Jeong (2015). A counter-hegemonic state to neoliberalism: the case of recent Korean higher education reforms. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education (CIHE), 6(3), 80-85.

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