23 SES 10 C, International Policies - Local Affects: Regenerating the Sociology of Basil Bernstein
Topic: International organisations such as the OECD and World Bank, with headquarters in Europe, are major players in the global accountability reform movement. Teacher survey instruments and student testing programs produced by these agencies seem to be increasingly shaping national education agendas, and the lives of teachers and students in local public education institutions servicing disadvantaged communities. Public education institutions are being reformed along business lines, and are increasingly inundated with data, including international and national standardised testing data, diagnostic test data, parent satisfaction surveys, and teacher performance reviews.
Research Questions: How are public education institutions in disadvantaged communities across the global responding to this accountability reform agenda? What forms of pedagogic identity are being constructed within these institutions, for teachers and students? When these institutions are saturated with data, and can readily access online research resources to generate their own research practices, what is the role of university-based qualitative education researchers, particularly in relation to addressing issues of educational inequality?
Theoretical Framework: Robertson (2012b: 2) has argued that different survey instruments, namely the OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) and the World Bank’s System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results (SABER) programme, are particular types of pedagogic devices that govern inside national territories through the production of knowledge about the ‘good teacher’, ‘professional development practices’, and ‘good teaching methods’ and link this knowledge to student results as measured on international standardised tests (PISA, TIMMS). We build on Robertson’s (2012a, b) take up of Bernstein’s theoretical work to explore how these notions of ‘goodness’ are enacted in local sites through case studies drawing on qualitative research methods. Each of the papers extends Bernstein’s theoretical oeuvre through dialogues with contemporary social theories, including feminist new materialisms. Given that ‘Class mediates between institutional culture and individuals (Bernstein, 1996, p. 21-22), the papers in this session ask what happens if we pay closer attention to matter, and imagine how meanings emerge when multiple worlds unite as dynamic assemblages (c.f. Evans et al., 2012)? The papers also ask what else matters in the way class becomes ‘specifiable as a force’, perhaps as an affective force, or as a psychic defence, (Bernstein 1996, 21-22; Lapping, 2011) acting in processes of becoming?
Each of the papers explores the relation between the worlds of qualitative data collection and analysis (L2) and theoretical models (L1), such as those elaborated in the Bernsteinian sociological project. We explore qualitative research processes as an ‘assemblage’ (Fox & Alldred, 2014), and focus on the productive and performative rather than representational aspects of research work. ‘The research-assemblage … comprises the bodies, things and abstractions that get caught up in social inquiry, including the events that are studied, the tools, models and precepts of research, and the researchers.’ (Fox & Alldred, 2014: 2).
The papers in this symposium revisit Bernstein’s work and focus on the complex and dynamic relations of control, that is, the interactional and locational communication principles which contest and challenge power relations. As Fox & Alldred (2014: 4) argue ‘Both the exercise of power or control and the capacity to resist such power and control must be explored as socially and spatiotemporally specific occurrences within continual and continuous flows’. While there is increasing attention to theorising control relations by scholars of educational policy and educational sociology (see Thompson & Cook, 2014), few scholars have explored the potential of elaborating Bernstein’s theories of control relations in dialogue with contemporary theories of control, such as that offered by new material feminisms, Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, and other scholars.
Bernstein, B. (1996). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, Research, Critique. London and New York, Taylor and Francis. Evans, J. and B. Davies (2008). "The poverty of theory: class configurations in the discourse of Physical Education and Health (PEH)." Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy 13(2): 119-213. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17408980701852571 Fox, N., J. and P. Alldred (2014). "New materialist social inquiry: designs, methods and the research-assemblage." International Journal of Social Research Methodology: 1-16. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2014.921458 Lapping, C. (2011). Psychoanalysis in Social Research. Shifting Theories and reframing concepts. London, New York, Routledge. Robertson, S., L. (2012a). "Placing Teachers in Global Governance Agendas." Comparative Education Review 46(4): 584-607 http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/667414 Robertson, S. L. (2012b). "Teachers’ Work, Denationalisation, and Transformations in the Field of Symbolic Control: A Comparative Account." Retrieved 4 April, 2014, from http://susanleerobertson.com/publications/ Thompson, G. and I. Cook (2014). "Becoming-topologies of education: deformations, networks and the database effect." Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01596306.2014.890411
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