Education as a commodity? (a sketch of sociological expertise)

Keywords: education, commodity, commodification, neoliberalism, consumption, market, Niklas Luhmann, Pierre Bourdieu, David Harvey, Terry Eagleton, Bill Readings


The article reveals the problematic aspects of the transformation processes of education into a commodity. Education is understood as a social practice and as a social institution. Carrying out a systematic analysis of these processes, the author demonstrates both systemic social, societal threats and (often underestimated) "pitfalls" generated by these processes, as well as possible limitations and even limits of their actualization and deployment. This analysis and demonstration is carried out in the technique of theoretical sociological expertise. The problem of sociology's partial disregard for the commodification of education and the probable prospects and problems arising from this are analyzed. It is emphasized that the uncritical perception of the processes of commodification of education by sociology, especially on the periphery of global neoliberal capitalism, is in itself a threat to education, in particular in the form of a change in the very nature of education as a phenomenon, its evolution from a phenomenon, first of all, a sociocultural phenomenon into a phenomenon primarily economic. Various arguments are given and analyzed in relation to the processes of commodification of education, each of which is named in the article by the name of a sociologist whose analysis is closest to the argument put forward. “Five big” arguments and “seven small” ones are formulated. In their presentation the “dark sides” of the processes of commodification and neoliberalization of education are analyzed in detail. Attention is focused on the analysis of how education is involved in interaction with other social institutions and phenomena, as well as on what effects and post-effects can be generated as a result of education commodification processes. It is emphasized that in this context, the most important plot is the connection between education as a phenomenon and freedom as a social construct – at the micro level, as well as with the social order – at the macro level. A number of conclusions are formulated about such a property of education as autonomy, about its socio-cultural characteristics and about the threats of the market.


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Author Biography

Alexander Golikov , V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Svobody Sq. 4, Kharkiv, 61022, Ukraine

Doctor of Sociology, Associate Professor, Professor of the Department of Sociology




How to Cite
Golikov , A. (2022). Education as a commodity? (a sketch of sociological expertise). Ukrainian Sociological Journal, (27), 33-43.