23 SES 09 A JS, New Public Management and the Modernisation of Education in Europe
Symposium, Joint Session NW 23 and NW 28
This symposium proposal originates from the ongoing research work on the reforms of public education systems across Europe carried on by a European research network called LE@DS, Leading Education and Democratic Schools. It follows on from three major seminars and two major conference symposia (AERA 2013, BERA 2012).
Education across Europe is undergoing major changes to its purposes, structures and practices within and for public education. New Public Management (NPM) has been influential in this process providing discourses and technologies to: a) reframe the regulation of educational professions with a trend towards deprofessionalisation; b) restructure the governance modes in the field of education; c) reculture the public sector importing the logics of economisation, performativity, managerial accountability and entrepreneurship; d) introduce markets into the design and delivery of educational services.
The implications of this modernising process inspired by the main tenets of NPM are a fundamental shift away from civic and welfare models of public education towards neoliberal and neoconservative private provision.
The symposium intends to offer accounts of how these processes of modernisation inspired by NPM have been enacted in a range of nation states across Europe, belonging to different traditions of state models and welfare regimes. Presenters will draw on research in political studies and sociology to illuminate and develop analysis about the significance of local and national histories, cultures, discourses and structures. We intend engaging with NPM as a ‘travelling policy’ and following Ozga and Jones (2006) we will not only consider this as a globalising policy construct that is worked and reworked through European and international bodies (e.g. OECD, World Bank) but also how ‘embedded’ contexts read, interpret and shape NPM within context and over time. Consistent with this a specific focus of the symposium will be a discussion of how diverse legacies (Liberal, Social-democratic, Corporatist, Mediterranean and Post-communist) mediate the processes of NPM.
The fil rouge of the symposium presentations will be the drawing on a shared comparative framework, based on a sensibility towards flows, mobility, circulation, embedding and recontextualisation rather than deterministic structural features, and a common understanding of the meaning, construction, discourses and development of NPM as a simultaneously global and local process. In such a perspective, each presentation addressing a specific national case will take a similar approach:
• An account of NPM features in the education system in that country.
• An examination of the contemporary history of educational reform and how NPM as a discourse, as a set of policy tools, and as a form of new professional identities and practices has been used to bring about change.
• Challenges and issues within the NPM processes in each education system, not least the debates and political actors involved.
• The contribution to the field of policy studies made by this analysis of NPM as a modernising process.
The aim of the symposium is to offer a contribution on the current debate on: 1) what is European about modernisation through NPM and what is local and distinct within the history and political system of the nation state; 2) the future perspectives of NPM reforms (within political studies NPM is variously represented as mature or even outmoded) starting from the analysis of the different local engagements with NPM reform, and the forms of resistance and resilience that NPM is generating.
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