chapter  2
20 Pages

Davina Cooper: 'At The Expense of Christianity': Backlash Discourse and Moral Panic

In this paper, I explore the character and impact of the NCR's religious education project through a textual analysis of recent legislation and circulars. To understand the law's agenda and impact, we need to locate

developments within the broader politics of the Thatcher period. This has received extensive attention elsewhere,2 so I will offer only a thumbnail sketch of key themes. Hall (1988), a prominent, radical commentator of the period, described the Right-wing politics of the Thatcher years as a hegemonic project of populist authoritarianism based on social discipline and hierarchical leadership. Elements of this can be found in the agenda of "law and order," "traditional family values," and patriotic nationalism. Within this context, as several writers have commented, education provided a key site of mobilization (Chitty 1989; Dale 1989; Jones 1989). Developed in Right-wing think-tanks during the 1970s, Conservative education policy deployed a populist "parents-know-best" rhetoric to undermine non-selective education, professional authority, and a questioning, child-centered approach to learning.