Making education markets through global trade agreements

11 Aug 2017

This paper uses the global trade negotiations and agreements, which include education sectors as potentially tradable services, to show the complex processes at work in making global education markets. Drawing on the work of Jens Beckert and others, I focus on the micro-processes of making capitalist orders and the challenges at hand in bringing decommodified sectors, like education, with distinctly different narratives to sustain their purpose. These processes include reimagining and offering alternative narratives to the idea of education as a public service; the reformatting of the education into the language of trade and legal documents; the use of devices, such as forecasting to represent the gains to be had into the future of trade agreements, or dispute settlement mechanisms to manage claims; and the strategic use of space and time as political resources to minimise frictions and lock in a preferred future for investors. I conclude by arguing that the ongoing circulation of alternative narratives about education makes instituting education particularly challenging, so that the future for investors is in no more way certain, despite efforts to reorient expectations.