How is structural inequality made fair in a meritocratic education system?
Equalising opportunities through metaphorical transfers within and across sub micro-meso-macro movements in policy discourse
This paper examines how, within the context of meritocracy, a highly differentiated education system can coexist with assertions of equal opportunity. Drawing on the example of Singapore’s education policy texts from 1991 to 2012, the paper exemplifies and expands the analytical potential of a micro-meso-macro movements framework with which to critically engage the discursive role of neo-liberal metaphors in ameliorating the tension of providing ‘equal opportunities’ between students who will undertake the university pathway and those who will have to undergo vocational training. Based on the interconnected discourses of opportunity-choice and opportunity-skills through a more flexible system, the analytical development of these two simultaneous sub micro-meso-macro movements demonstrates how the playing field is levelled, and competition for society’s occupations and academic progression is fair even for Vocational and Industrial Training Board Act (VITB) trainees.
Keywords: critical discourse analysis, valuation, political economy, education policy, inequality, metaphor, meritocracy, Foucault, Nietzsche, data-led methodology
Published online: 04 December 2020
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