Antoni Verger

Educational Reform in Times of Policy Movement and Growth: Unveiling the Micro-Foundations of Policy Change

Antoni Verger is professor of Sociology and ICREA-Academia research fellow at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. His research lies at the intersection of sociology of education, policy analysis and comparative education. He has lead the ERC-funded project Reforming Schools Globally: A Multiscalar Analysis of Autonomy and Accountability Policies in the Education Sector (2016-2022), and is academic director of the Erasmus Plus-awarded Education Policies for Global Development-GLOBED Master degree. Verger publishes in comparative education, sociology of education and social policy journals, and is lead editor of the Journal of Education Policy and the World Yearbook of Education.

Educational Reform in Times of Policy Movement and Growth: Unveiling the Micro-Foundations of Policy Change

Policy change is an increasingly elusive research object. Traditional notions of policy change, such as those that treat it as distinct outcomes resulting from well-defined reforms, are being challenged in the contemporary education policyscape. In a context marked by intense policy movement and rapid policy growth, governments rely on an expanding array of instruments, which accumulate in a growing 'policy stock'. Educational reforms, influenced by this environment, adopt a piecemeal approach, resulting in numerous policies, some lacking sufficient resources while others exerting influence in ways beyond governmental control.

This presentation delves into the entangled processes of policy formulation and enactment, revealing both the subtleties and unpredictability of contemporary patterns of policy change. It explores the interactions between newly adopted policy instruments and existing ones, and how these configure intricate and dynamic 'policy mixes' with unforeseen combined effects. Moreover, it examines how 'instrument constituencies' shape policy trajectories beyond initial intentions, leading to transformed and expanded instrument use. The micro-foundations of policy change come into focus as filtering and enactment processes gain significance, bringing about far-reaching changes stemming from recurrent feedback and seemingly minor technical adjustments. The landscape is further complicated with contextual shifts, both within and beyond the educational realm, imparting new meanings to existing instruments or altering their capacities while formally remaining unchanged.

Drawing on examples from research on privatization and new public management reforms in education, this presentation navigates the challenges posed by the evolving nature of policy formation and deployment. Its objective is to deepen our understanding of the micro-foundations of policy change and provide insights for future educational research.

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