23 SES 09 A JS, New Public Management and the Modernisation of Education in Europe
Symposium, Joint Session NW 23 and NW 28
Italy can be regarded as a late comer in the NPM reform of the education system. This trajectory started in the late 1990s as part of a wider restructuring of the welfarist public sector. The keywords of such a modernisation project inspired by Third Way rhetoric were: school autonomy, devolution, evaluation and accountability, entrepreneurship and leadership, soft marketization, schools-networking and public-private partnership. Over the last decade, this project of restructuring and reculturing has been progressively appropriated and re-launched within a neoliberal framework. The Italian education arena could be interpreted as a field progressively colonised by private actors, new discourses and stakeholders, several ‘how to do’ managerial methodologies and digital technologies for learning, teaching and controlling, whereas the ‘old’ welfarist bureaucratic and professional actors still deploy articulated strategies of resistance. The clash between such a process of restructuring and the diffuse resiliencies results in a hybrid configuration of ‘centralized-decentralization’. The tentative enactment of NPM devices of governance, accountability and performance management paradoxically determines the reinforcement of the hierarchical chain of control (at a distance), the reculturing of education workforce and the establishment of a new ‘moral’ environment where competition, contractualism, calculability and performativity try to erode the professional ethos and trust.
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