The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.

Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Cerretti, Josh

Second Advisor

Neem, Johann N.

Third Advisor

Schulze-Oechtering, Michael


This masters thesis is a case study of neoliberalism within Whatcom County, Washington during the 1980s and 1990s culture wars. I explore the interrelationship of State laws, rhetoric, economic policies, and local public discourse as a way to take seriously the ideological and emotional experiences of community members during the culture wars. Through examining public discourse, I focus on the ways in which people expressed their thoughts and feelings, and how these informed, legitimized, denaturalized, and destabilized established hegemonic practices and beliefs, as well as informed new rationalities, practices, and moralisms. As sites where social reality is created, I focus on new forms of education within public schools (removal of Christmas from public schools, KNOW:HIV/AIDS curriculum, the DARE program) enacted by State laws, policies, and local policies. These new forms of education acculturated students in values, morals, goals, and desirable behaviors in line with economic theories that saw forms of education as investment in human capital. The implementation of new forms of education placed increased demands and responsibilities onto families, teachers, and school officials to assume personal responsibility in addressing mounting systemic social and economic ills. Cultural tensions emerged in response to fundamental changes in the acculturation of students, and the ways in which public schools were to be used and operated by the State.




Culture Wars, curriculum, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, law enforcement, DARE, behavioral education, state power, cops, neoliberal


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Neoliberalism--Washington (State)--Whatcom County--History; Politics and culture--Washington (State)--Whatcom County--History; Social conflict--Washington (State)--Whatcom County--History; Culture conflict--Washington (State)--Whatcom County--History; Public schools--Washington (State)--Whatcom County--Sociological aspects--History; Moral education--Washington (State)--Whatcom County--History

Geographic Coverage

Whatcom County (Wash.)--History--20th century




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Included in

History Commons