Globalisation, Societies and Education 10(4) pp 473-492

This paper attempts to analyse current developments in education through exploring shifts in the politics of education over time. Rather than looking at education policy in terms of political provenance (left or right) or ideological underpinnings (the state or the market, the public or the private), the paper compares education policies in terms of the domains of social injustice which they address. Based on Nancy Fraser’s theorisation of different kinds of social justice, the paper uses examples from England to show how the politics of education have sequentially attempted to address injustices in economic, cultural and political domains. This has resulted in a changing orientation from a politics of redistribution to a politics of recognition and, in recent years, to a politics of representation. This approach reveals the complexity of educational inequalities and the fragility and incomplete nature of strategies to address them. It also provides a fruitful framework for the comparative analysis of the politics of education which can link the detail with the bigger picture.