“Data my ass”: Political rhizomes of power and the symbolic violence of neoliberal privatization


  • Pamela Rogers University Of Ottawa
  • Nichole E. Grant Canadian Teachers’ Federation




neoliberalism, privatization, governance, public education, symbolic violence, rhizomatic analysis


In October 2022, Dominic Cardy, former New Brunswick Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, resigned and publicly disclosed his disappointment with Premier Blaine Higgs' leadership. This paper explores the inner workings of neoliberal governance and privatization in public education systems, using Cardy's unprecedented resignation letter as a primary source to critically analyze the portrayal of data manipulation, shifts in education governance, and problematic ideologies. Our analysis reveals that neoliberal privatization is not only unethical but also symbolically violent, undermining vital democratic structures. Drawing from Bourdieu and Passeron's (1977) conceptualization of symbolic violence and Ruth Wilson Gilmore's (2008) notion of "organized abandonment," we argue that neoliberal privatization disproportionately affects vulnerable communities and undermines democratic processes. To understand these complexities, we advocate for a rhizomatic analysis, simultaneously considering historical and geographical contexts, governance structures, and political narratives. This perspective reveals that neoliberal privatization is inherently symbolically violent, as it perpetually dismantles and defunds public institutions.

Author Biographies

Pamela Rogers, University Of Ottawa

Pamela Rogers (she/her) is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa, and CTF/FCE Principal Investigator on educator mental health research funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Her research focuses on equity, discursive policy formations, and employees' lived experiences in neoliberal governance structures. As a former high school social studies teacher from Nova Scotia, Pamela is interested in improving workplace conditions and building community alliances to support public school educators. 

Nichole E. Grant, Canadian Teachers’ Federation

Nichole E. Grant (she/her) currently resides with her family in Ottawa, Ontario, the traditional unceded territories of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Peoples and is Researcher and Policy Analyst at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. Nichole’s research focuses on anti-oppressive practices and educational policies in Canada, as well as methods of knowledge formation and neoliberalism in everyday spaces. In this work, Nichole looks to understand the interactions of people, places, and histories in these areas through feminist posthumanism, decolonizing, and new materialist approaches.






Defending and Strengthening Public Education as a Common Good