Citizens and/or consumers: mutations in the construction of concepts and practices of school choice

Wilkins, Andrew. 2010. Citizens and/or consumers: mutations in the construction of concepts and practices of school choice. Journal of Education Policy, 25(2), pp. 171-189. ISSN 0268-0939 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Recent research on school choice highlights the tendency among some White, middle-class parents to engage with discourses of community responsibility and ethnic diversity as part of their responsibility and duty as choosers and who therefore exercise choice in ways that undercut the individualistic and self- interested character framing governmental discourses and rationalities around choice. This article contributes to these debates through making visible the ways in which some mothers articulate and combine meanings and practices of choice that register contrasting and sometimes contradictory notions of active and responsible parenting. Drawing on data from a group of mothers of diverse social class and racial backgrounds, I explore how some mothers negotiate their school choice around a number of intersecting positions and relations that work across, as well as within, formulations of public–private, collective–individual, citizen– consumer, political–commercial. Through a consideration of the relationships in practice between these diverse elements, this article questions the analytic value of distinctions between citizen and consumer, community and individual as framings for understanding the motivations and aspirations shaping some mothers’ school choices.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


discourse/analysis, sociology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


28 October 2009Accepted
1 April 2010Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Nov 2019 14:55

Last Modified:

15 Jun 2021 00:53

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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