28 SES 01, Governing by Data and Standards: Normalization, Paradoxes and Resistance
Literature and socio-economic research clearly point out the increasing role played by “big data” in a variety of fields: economy, cultural consumption, food, education, finance, wars, and famine. In order to be functional and usable, data provided by these organizations require and involve a large number of human, economic and institutional resources, and produce increasingly detailed information that cannot be ignored, allowing comparative analyses across countries. The result is the implementation of ranking processes for the assessment of countries and local contexts (such as OECD Regions at a Glance). In all fields, databases make it possible to collect, produce and monitor a great deal of information, which seems to construct an objective, natural view of societies. Databases affect public, media and political institutions, which use data as “natural empirical evidence” to legitimize and make decisions.
The effects of databases are also evident in the educational field. The social history of educational databases has recently been characterized by a transition from static to dynamic databases, the latter allowing not only the collection and storage of data, but also the constant and direct acquisition of information, thanks to digital technologies and the Web. The resulting process of “databasization of education” is indeed a relevant, expanding and ever-changing phenomenon (with regard to the typology of data, themes and geographic areas), and represents both a radical discontinuity with the (even recent) past and an innovation for the future, although it is not exempt from critical (ethical, technical and political) issues.
In the last few decades, various types of databases have emerged in the educational field:
- Large-Scale Assessment (LSA) infrastructures (such as PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS and PIAAC), maxi-surveys collecting data related to the “competence levels” of students (or adults) and information about families, schools and individuals.
- Indicator systems (such as OECD, IEA, Unesco, Eurostat) based on standard processes for collecting, gathering and processing large sets of data, which are gradually passing from being “static” (namely, “stored” in large, more or less accessible, databases) to “dynamic”. Dynamism is indeed ensured by the possibility to integrate and graphically display them through infographic models or Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
Another interesting aspect is that this process of first- and second-level “infrastructuralization” (respectively, the production of data through LSA and data collection systems or of dynamic, constantly updated and integrated data) ends up producing various data-use practices, ranging from institutional uses following an “evidence-based policy” to “more social” uses, open to a greater interpretative flexibility, also due to the free availability of data. Most of them (such as OECD data) are indeed provided free of charge. In this process, the production of open-access data plays an important role, requiring expert users – as in the cases of OECD (PISA or PIAAC) and IEA (PIRLS and TIMSS) surveys – while also opening up new fields of research and analysis, which may follow less institutional theoretical and/or methodological paths and produce unexpected outcomes.
Apple, M.W., Ball, S.J., Gandin, L., 2010 (eds). The Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Education. Abingdon: Routledge. Ball, S.J., (2012) Global Education Inc. New policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary. London, Routledge Daun, H. (2005) Globalisation and the Governance of National Education Systems, in J. Zajda (Ed.) International Handbook on Globalisation, Education and Policy Research, pp. 93-107. Dordrecht: Springer Davenport, T. H., Barth P., Bean R. (2012), "How 'Big Data' Is Different." MIT Sloan Management Review, 54, no. 1 (Fall 2012).. Giancola O., Viteritti A. (2014) "Distal and Proximal Vision: a multi-perspective research in sociology of education", European Educational Research Journal, Volume 13 Number 1 2014 Grek S., 2009, “Governing by numbers: the PISA ‘effect’ in Europe”, Journal of educational policy, Vol.24, No.1, 2009,Routledge Latour B, 2011, “Networks, Societies, Spheres: Reflections of an Actor-network Theorist”, Keynote Lecture, Annenberg School of Design, Seminar on Network Theories, February 2010, published in the International Journal of Communication special issue edited by Manuel Castells Vol 5, 2011, pp. 796-810. Latour B., November V., Camacho-Hubner E., 2010, “Entering a Risky Territory – Space in the Age of Digital Navigation”, in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 2010, volume 28, pages 581-599 Lawn, M., 2011. Standardizing the European Education Policy Space. European Educational Research Journal, 10(2), p.259. Mayer-Schönberger V, Cukier K. (2012) Big Data: A Revolution That Transforms How we Work, Live, and Think" Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Meyer H.D., Benavot A., 2013, “PISA and the Globalization of Education Governance: some puzzles and problems”, in Meyer H.D., Benavot A., 2013(eds.) PISA, Power, and Policy the emergence of global educational governance, Oxford, Oxford Studies in Comparative Education -Symposium Books Ozga, J., 2009. Governing Education through Data in England: From Regulation to Self-Evaluation. Journal of Education Policy, 24(2), pp.149–163 Savage M. (2013) “The 'Social Life of Methods': A Critical Introduction” in Theory Culture Society 30: 4, pp. 3–21 Saetnan A.R., Lomell H.M, Hammer S., 2010 (eds.) “The Mutual Construction of Statistics and Society”Routledge, 2010, Series: Routledge Advances in Research Methods Star, S.L., Bowker, G.C. (1999). Sorting Things Out Classification and Its Consequences, Cambridge MA.: MIT Press Timmermans, S. & Epstein, S., 2010. A World of Standards but not a Standard World: Toward a Sociology of Standards and Standardization . Annual Review of Sociology, 36(1), pp.69–89.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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