Competing Ideologies in California Education: A Discourse-Historical Approach to Analyzing Multiculturalism from the 1960s to 2000

KELLY, Leah Christine (2018) Competing Ideologies in California Education: A Discourse-Historical Approach to Analyzing Multiculturalism from the 1960s to 2000. [Mémoire]

Item Type: Mémoire
Creators: KELLY, Leah Christine
Directeur de recherche: Brulard-Carr, Ines
Divisions: UFR Langues, Littératures et Civilisations Etrangères > Département Etudes du Monde Anglophone (DEMA)
Diplôme: M2 Etudes anglophones
Uncontrolled Keywords: multiculturalism, education, discourse analysis
Abstract: As a result of the social upheaval of the 1960s, academics and politicians alike proceeded to debate solutions to the problem of institutionalized inequality in the United States that could no longer be ignored. One of the solutions to this problem was an implementation of multicultural policies that would supposedly answer the question of how to equally include certain populations in the public sphere, notably in education. However, multiculturalism and thus multicultural policy (as multiculturalism in practice) was unable to yield a consensus on what multiculturalism should look like as applied policy in the American context, and so, counterproductively led to further debate and highlighted existing ideological differences between different populations and between populations and power entities (e.g. the state or federal government). The present thesis is a dual-layer case study on the way multicultural discourse was used at the national level and in the California education system. Using the discourse-historical approach to Critical Discourse Analysis, I analyze what I label as multicultural aspects of various speeches and government documents at two different levels of the California public education system. Through historical analysis I trace the changes in discourse of liberal individualism and multiculturalism and analyze how those changes contributed to power relations within the national and state education systems in the 1980s and 1990s. At each level under study there are actors who are constantly struggling in inherent power relations, not only between the levels but also within the levels. I argue that the failure of multiculturalism in the California education system is due to the intrinsic contradictions in two competing ideologies – multiculturalism and liberal individualism. Both ideologies are weakened by their contradictions while simultaneously in competition with each other. This eventually contributes to power relations visible within the discourse at the different levels of education.