23 SES 02 E, Research Policies and the Politics of Research (Part 1)
Paper Session: to be continued in 23 SES 03 E, 23 SES 04 E
This paper focuses on of government regulation of educational research. More precisely, I intend to describe and analyse public authorities’ attempts to influence educational research in order to produce useful knowledge for policy and practitioners. For this, I’ll present an empirical study centred in the action of a governmental agency that operated in Portugal, between 1989 and 2001, as an illustration of the objectives and processes used to regulate educational research. Although the agency is not working any longer, the study remains pertinent and actual.
Pertinent, because the creation of a governmental agency dedicated to orient and influence educational research wasn’t a Portuguese originality. In fact, in the early 1990, Popkewitz and Pereyra revealed the trend that was being followed in several European countries, committed to the implementation of educational reforms during the 1980s, to create "new entities and certification standards and the establishment of research institutions (...) to guide teaching "(Popkewitz & Pereyra, 1992, p. 12).
Actual considering the growing importance of knowledge in public policies, with a rising demand by public authorities for the production of useful knowledge in order to improve public policies (see KnowandPol, 2008). This phenomenon tends to emphasize an instrumental character to educational research (Ozga, 2011). In fact, transnational agencies, as OECD (2003), recommend a use-inspired basic research to solve contemporary educational issues. These trends reinforce a global standardisation on research topics, agendas and methodologies (Amos et al, 2002) and raise the “deployment of new kinds of ‘research’ knowledge” based in a performativity for education research (Ball, 2010, p. 124). Simultaneously, in most of European public policies there is a transition to new regulation modes, or post-bureaucratic, that emphasise the control post action: evaluation and self-evaluation, awards, best practices, among others, became preferential modes of public action orientation (Maroy & Demailly, 2004). In science policy, this transition can be seen by the progressive replacement of the principles of self-regulation that establish the scientific systems, to the increasing introduction of external control mechanisms of scientific activity (Bourdieu, 2001): competitive calls, indirect financial provisions, evaluation based on bibliometric criteria, and publishing in refereed journals have become central in scientific activity (Vincent-Lancrin, 2006).
These phenomena are at the origin of the paper, where our interest is to describe and reflect on government regulation of educational research given a central question: how do public authorities try to orient and control educational research?
Despite the focus on governmental regulation, the study assumes that the way public authorities try to influence scientific production does not reflect social reality (Terssac, 2003). In this sense, the study joins a tradition of research that emphasizes the unpredictability of public action, and seeks to describe, and capture, the complexity of public policy processes (Le Lascoumes & Gales, 2007). Thus, even if the study is focused on the action of a governmental agency, the data revealed other regulation modes that result from the action of social actors, namely researchers and policymakers, who, according to their interests and strategies, (re) set the rules and orientations in their social contexts (Reynaud, 2004).
This work was supported by Foundation of Science and Technology (Grant SFRH/BD/60714/2009)
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Ball, S. J. (2010). New Voices, New Knowledges and the New Politics of Education Research: the gathering of a perfect storm? European Educational Research Journal, Vol. 9, n.º 2, pp. 124-137.
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KNOWandPOL Project. Available
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