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Enacting the People? School Choice, Constituency, and the Common Good

Fri, April 9, 9:30 to 10:30am EDT (9:30 to 10:30am EDT), Division L, Division L - Section 4 Roundtable Sessions


This theoretical paper explores the ways in which the democratic notion of ‘the people’ may be enacted in the choice arena. Investigating a charter school opening in a rural and segregated district in the deep south, we explore the ‘constituent paradox’ that enabled the community to mobilize towards a goal of the common good. We argue that for ‘the people’ to be invoked in school choice, they must (1) identify more deeply than the institutions of their representation, and (2) recognize an expanded individuality defined by choice-as-participation rather than choice-as-consumption. We aim to relocate choice away from either/or arguments, to recognize that the relation between choice and the common good is contingent on the underlying enactment of ‘the people.’