28 SES 05 B, The Governance of Education between States, Networks and For-Profit Companies
This paper explores the methodological issues of researching contractualism within educational contexts. While contracts are not new in liberal democratic societies, they increasingly mediate relationships in education at all levels (Rawolle 2013), both within institutions and then between institutions and the state, and various other stakeholders. Contractualism therefore represents a new form of governance under which entities other than government are required to meet outcomes-based measures (Blackmore 2012) in the quest for both greater flexibility and accountability within schools, universities and vocational education offered by public and private providers. (Yeatman 1996) describes ‘new contractualism’ as involving texts that (a) make explicit the obligations and duties of people involved in education provision; (b) involve the consent of those people to obligations and duties assigned to them under the contracts; and (c) offer points of renegotiation and explicit points of mutual accountability for the agreements made. Educational contracts cover explicit contracts and contract-like texts ranging from non-legal and quasi-legal documents to formal legal documents. Examples include student learning plans, staff performance review documents, memorandums of understanding, service provision regulations and school charters.
Educational contracts can involve multiple stakeholders and can also be implicit through networks governing everyday social relations. Thus, building on Rhodes (2007), we consider not only individual contracts but also networks of contractual relations and how the links between each relay specific obligations and accountabilities. For example, outsourcing and interagency collaboration highlight the serial nature of contractual relations requiring new forms of network governance (Considine, Lewis & Alexander 2011). Obligations derived from broad settlements by governments are relayed to institutions, which are, in turn, sub-contracted to professions (as ‘service providers’) or other organisations. This network approach contrasts with prior studies which focus on contractualism within single sites (Yeatman et al. 2009). Thus, contracts mediate individual (e.g. performance management) and collectivist (e.g. enterprise bargaining) relationships within the wider social contract embedded in the governance of Western democracies. Moreover, due to the shifting of responsibility through the seriality of contractual relations, it is increasingly individual academics, teachers, students and parents who are held responsible for educational and equity achievements rather than the institutions and systems within which they are located. Beck (1992) refers to this trend as ‘responsibilisation’ (Blackmore & Hutchison 2010; Rawolle 2013). Thus, contractualism provides a lens through which to investigate changing relationships between the government, individuals (students, parents and educators) and education.
This paper considers the conceptual and methodological issues associated with researching and analysing the ways in which social networks operate within the context of educational contracts. This is an issue partly because much of the literature deals with contracts as texts and does not specifically take into account implicit or network contractual relations. The paper responds to the question what can Bourdieu’s notions of capital and field contribute to our understanding of the ways in which social networks are built and deployed given the increasing use of social contracts to govern education provision?
Beck, U 1992, Risk Society: Towards a new modernity, Sage, London. Blackmore, J & Hutchison, K 2010, 'Ambivalent relations : the 'tricky footwork' of parental involvement in school communities', International journal of inclusive education, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 499-515. Bourdieu, P 1984, Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste, Routledge & Keegan Paul, London. Bourdieu, P 1986, 'The forms of capital', in JG Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, Greenwood, New York, pp. 241-58. Bourdieu, P 1996, The State Nobility: Elite schools in the field of power, Polity, Cambridge. Castells, M 2000, 'Information technology and global capitalism', in W Hutton & A Giddens (eds), Global Capitalism, The New Press, New York, pp. 52-74. Considine, M, Lewis, JM & Alexander, D 2011, 'Innovation inside government: the importance of networks', in V Bekkers, J Edelenbos & B Steijn (eds), Innovation in the Public Sector: Linking capacity and leadership, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 107-32. Hanneman, RA & Riddle, M 2005, Introduction to social network methods, University of California, Riverside CA. Rawolle, S 2013, 'Understanding equity as an asset to national interest: developing a social contract analysis of policy', Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 231-44. Rawolle, S & Lingard, B 2008, 'The sociology of Pierre Bourdieu and researching education policy', Journal of Education Policy, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 729-41. Rhodes, RAW 2007, 'Understanding governance: ten years on', Organization Studies, vol. 28, no. 8, pp. 1243–64. Smith, DE 2005, 'Institutional Ethnography: A sociology for people', in AltaMira Press, Lanham. Smith, DE 2006a, 'Incorporating texts into ethnographic practice', in DE Smith (ed.), Institutional Ethnography as Practice, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, pp. 65-88. Smith, DE 2006b, Institutional Ethnography as Practice, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham. Wittel, A 2001, 'Towards a network sociality', Theory, Culture and Society, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 51-76. Yeatman, A 1996, 'Interpreting Contractualism', Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 39-55. Yeatman, A, Dowsett, GW, Fine, M & Guransky, D 2009, Individualisation and the delivery of welfare services: contestation and complexity, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.
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