Announcement: Call for Papers – Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education (ACT)

A special issue critically examining the influence of neoliberal capitalism on music education

Neoliberal capitalism is a contemporary political and economic ideology favouring free trade, privatization, minimal government influence on business, and reduced public expenditure on social services. Its influence has been cited as the engine behind rising social and economic inequality worldwide and as the basis of citizens’ loss of a sense of social responsibility in numerous world societies.  In recent years, increasing numbers of scholars have decried the influence of neoliberal capitalist ideology on education, arguing that its influence has collapsed education into training and that educational institutions have largely adopted the mission of business schools (e.g., Apple, 2011, Giroux, 2019).

Some might argue that music education has accorded with a neoliberal capitalist orientation throughout its history, insofar as music teachers have placed greater emphasis in their teaching on performances and on the creation of musical works (both as marketable products) and less on fostering students’ understanding of the cultural practices from which they emerge and the social processes they reflect.  Others maintain that education in music and “the arts” within the study of “the humanities” has served—and continues to serve—as an important balancing force in society, asserting that it promotes co-operation, collaboration, empathy, reading ability, critical analysis, and aesthetic discernment, as well as awareness of history, valuing of cultural differences, and consideration of non-conformist thinking.

With these perspectives in mind, the editors of ACT invite submissions for a special issue critically examining the influence of neoliberal capitalism on music education.

Possible questions:

  • How does the competitive market logic of neoliberal capitalism influence the teaching and assessment practices of music educators?
  • How might technologies of music lesson planning, such as backward design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005), contribute to advancing neoliberal educational thinking within music education?
  • What might be the role of music education methods, or methodolatries (Regelski, 2002), in reinforcing neoliberal thinking in students? Do they serve as balancing forces in education, and if so, how?
  • How do neoliberal capitalist notions of creativity converge with and diverge from the concepts of musical creativity espoused within the field of music education?
  • In what ways does a primary curricular focus on western art music support a neoliberal agenda? (The same question could be asked of multicultural music education, with its embrace of so-called “world music.”)
  • How might music education be envisioned in a society whose politics and economy are evolving away from the economic extremes of neoliberal capitalism and toward a more socially balanced and societally equitable alternative? What are such alternatives, and how might musicians and music educators be supporting or hindering such evolution?

Please submit your paper via e-mail no later than midnight, March 1, 2020 to the ACT Co-Editors: Dr. Deborah Bradley at and Dr. Scott Goble at Proposals will be blind reviewed and notification will be sent via email by June 1, 2020.


Apple, M. W. (2011). Democratic education in neoliberal and neoconservative times, International Studies in Sociology of Education, 21(1): 21-31.  DOI: 10.1080/09620214.2011.543850

Giroux, H. A. (2019). Authoritarianism and the challenge of higher education in the age of Trump.  Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, 18(1): 6–25. DOI: 10.22176/act18.1.6

Regelski, T. A. (2002). On “methodolatry” and music teaching as critical and reflective praxis.  Bloomington, IN: Philosophy of Music Education Review, 10(2): 102-123. ISSN: 1543-3412

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. ISBN-13: 978-1416600350

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.