Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Jeffrey J. Kuzmic, PhD

Second Advisor

Joby Gardner, PhD

Third Advisor

Ronald E. Chennault, PhD


I was driven to this study by witnessing dramatic changes in urban education in recent years and began to ask the questions: What is going on? And why now? This dissertation will show that an extremely powerful and pervasive global ideology known as neoliberalism is at the core of the answers to these questions. As a result, understanding the Rise of Neoliberalism has become a passionate mission for me.

Ferguson (2009) argues that a different approach to the study of neoliberalism is needed because the current scholarship is unsatisfactory; generating common pejorative and unsurprising conclusions like ‘it is bad for poor and working people therefore we must oppose it’. Neither Ferguson (2009) nor I disagree with this, but he asks why he should bother to read study after study coming to this same conclusion. This paper argues that the reason for this common conclusion is because of much of the scholarship on neoliberalism lacks causal and motivational connections between people and events that creates a holistic understanding. This prevents the creation of emergent ideas from the data. Without this holistic view, researchers arrive at conclusions in the same manners as those from scientific experiments that use rationality alone. Rudolph Otto (1923) from his book: The Idea of the Holy warns us about the error in our thinking that we have exhausted our means of investigating a phenomenon via rationality alone.

To address these issues, this paper will employ a methodology that combines Heuristic Inquiry with Narrative Historiography. This unique combination will use the faith and passion I have as a means to search for a deeper understanding of neoliberalism and at the same time, prevent the error brought to light by Otto (1923). Heuristic Inquiry and Narrative Historiography as methodologies combine the rational and the non-rational in a usage I term transrationality. Howard (1991) tells us that the non-rational falls under narrative or storytelling as an approach to increasing human knowledge. It is important to point out that rational and non-rational thinking are not opposites but used in this study as a seamless and complimentary means of thinking. They both fall under the umbrella of reason and logic as a means to create a fuller understanding of a phenomenon.

Building on and extending the thoughts of Marx (1973), Habermas (1968) and Schopenhauer (1909), this paper will attempt to show that the nature and power of capital, as understood by this researcher, is at the root of what has created neoliberalism and made it into such a dominant global phenomenon and ideology.