• 294 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • 4 tables, 1 figure
  • Price: $37.95
  • EAN: 9781439923719
  • Publication: Oct 2023
  • Price: $110.50
  • EAN: 9781439923702
  • Publication: Oct 2023
  • Price: $37.95
  • EAN: 9781439923726
  • Publication: Oct 2023

The Fantasy Economy

Neoliberalism, Inequality, and the Education Reform Movement

Neil Kraus

Wage stagnation, growing inequality, and even poverty itself have resulted from decades of neoliberal decision making, not the education system, writes Neil Kraus in his urgent call to action, The Fantasy Economy. Kraus claims the idea that both the education system and labor force are chronically deficient was aggressively and incorrectly promoted starting in the Reagan era, when corporate interests and education reformers emphasized education as the exclusive mechanism providing the citizenry with economic opportunity. However, as this critical book reveals, that is a misleading articulation of the economy and education system rooted in the economic self-interests of corporations and the wealthy.

The Fantasy Economy challenges the basic assumptions of the education reform movement of the last few decades. Kraus insists that education cannot control the labor market and unreliable corporate narratives fuel this misinformation. Moreover, misguided public policies, such as accountability and school choice, along with an emphasis on workforce development and STEM over broad-based liberal arts education, have only produced greater inequality.

Ultimately, The Fantasy Economy argues that education should be understood as a social necessity, not an engine of the neoliberal agenda. Kraus’ book advocates for a change in conventional thinking about economic opportunity and the purpose of education in a democracy.


“A milestone recasting of a longstanding debate—education reform—that has for too long perpetuated false narratives about working classes and elite reproduction. The Fantasy Economy reclaims the emancipatory power of education. It is not to be missed.”
Clara E. Mattei, Associate Professor of Economics at the New School, and author of The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism

“Deep-pocketed interests tell us that our economy suffers from educational gaps, not imbalances of power. The rest of us should read Neil Kraus’s revelatory book and call this ubiquitous idea what it is: a fantasy that makes Americans more unequal and insecure.”
Jacob S. Hacker, Stanley Resor Professor of Political Science, Yale University, and author of The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream

About the Author(s)

Neil Kraus is Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. He is the author of Majoritarian Cities: Policy Making and Inequality in Urban Politics and Race, Neighborhoods, and Community Power: Buffalo Politics, 1934–1997.

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