Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1-12

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Contest, contradiction, and security: The moral possibilities of liminal education

  • James C. ConroyAffiliated withFaculty of Education, University of Glasgow
  • , Doret J. de RuyterAffiliated withDepartment of Theory and Research in Education, Faculty of Psychology and Education, VU University Amsterdam Email author 


The article develops a conception of education that we have named liminal education. Liminal education tries to counter the centripetal tendencies of the centre (particular that of the consumer market) by disclosing alternative positions in order to enable children to cultivate a critically reflective disposition. A second feature of liminal education is that it carries the potential to assist children in recognising that otherness is not the same thing as being alien. Finally, it is characterised by an embodiment of the notion of ‘communitas’, a state in which no one can have authority over another or see themselves as superior. For children who live within the dominant (centre) culture and who find security in consumerism, liminal education is important because it offers them imaginative possibilities which could give rise to alternative conceptions of the good life. Children in liminal communities will benefit from liminal education, because they will have a better understanding of their own position and those of others, which, we believe, will reduce the anxiety of loosing one’s identity and thereby the need to return to anxiously held foundational beliefs.


Border pedagogy Consumerism Diversity Economy Fundamentalism Liberal education Liminal education Security