The relationship between public schooling and the economic workings of capitalist society has long been a concern of social theorists, from European neo-Marxists such as Louis Althusser and Paul Willis, to American critics of industrial/corporate capitalism like Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis, and Martin Carnoy. Early initiatives by the business sector to reform public education usually focused on tailoring the curriculum to the needs of industry; critiques of such initiatives stressed the school's role in preparing students to be docile workers within a stratified labor market.

In the decades since these critiques evolved, however, both capitalism and public education have undergone profound changes. The U.S. economy, and public life in general, have been transformed by the advent of digital information and communications technology; corporations aggressively market their ...

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