2018 Volume 85 Issue 4 Pages 458-470
Civil society and voluntarism are sometimes regarded by neoliberal pedagogy as alternatives to state public education system, which are suitable for the post-welfare state era. However, civil society and voluntary associations in history not only promoted minority inclusion but also excluded minority and discriminated groups through its democracy. The aim of this study is to explore the process of ‘democratic exclusion’ in popular education in early nineteenth century Britain, comparing the English case and the Irish case. The English case suggests that voluntary associations themselves could bring about and justify exclusion by their subscriber democracy. The Irish case shows that arrangement of the relations between state and civil society could not only include minorities in civil society, but exclude them from state politics. These findings suggest that reevaluation of civil society by neoliberal pedagogy is seriously defective with regard the historical perspective.