Chaos Theory and the Neoliberal English-Based Dimension of the Polish Higher Education Reforms 2018/2019

Keywords: language and power; sociolinguistics; chaos theory; neoliberalism; critical pedagogy; higher education reform


This article draws on chaos theory to critically analyse the recent higher education reforms that have been taking place in Poland. The argument launched in this article aims to show that the reforms are based primarily on neoliberal foundations and to expose the linguistic dominance of the English language in neoliberal settings. The English language appears to be a strong tool of neoliberal power, used to empower or to marginalise local academics. The divisive power of English exploited by reformists creates a growing fissure between age cohorts, disciplines and academics representing diverse social backgrounds. The tension and uncertainty brought about by the reforms have increased the anxiety and competition between scholars, undermining solidarity and compromising joint agency. The long-term results of entering the neoliberal “rat race”, which is strongly reliant on English language skills, are yet unknown.

Author Biography

Anna Odrowaz-Coates, Maria Grzegorzewska University

Professor at Social Pedagogy Department,

Chair for UNESCO Janusz Korczak Chair