22 SES 04 A, Internationalisation: Policy Papers in Higher Education
The Bologna Process is known for its expansion and its swift and far-reaching transformations of higher education architectures (Ravinet, 2008; Robertson, 2009). Since 1999 the Bologna Process has moved from a declaration of intent to an extensive mobilization of 47 countries. But how come that the process gained this kind of momentum; how is it that those 47 countries were mobilized to radically change existing education systems without passing any laws at the European level?
The initiation of the Bologna Process in 1999 is accompanied by a shift in the design of governing from (‘hard’) government to (‘soft’) governance. Governance is a system of rule that use mobilizing techniques and persuasive incentive structures drawing actors to co-opt themselves into the process and thereby actively involve themselves in the distribution of (hegemonic) power. This new mode of governance is put into operation through new monitoring practices, standardizing devices and performance measurements. In order to grasp the character of this ‘soft’ governance and thus the agency dimension of the Bologna Process, this paper analyzes the policy ontology of the Bologna Process – that is the ‘quality’ and constitution of the ways in which it works – and the infrastructure of the policy ontology – that is the mechanisms that the ontology comprises for generating change (Brøgger, 2016; Dale, 2009).
The policy ontology of the Bologna Process can be seen as ‘monitored coordination’, also known as the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). The OMC is not to be mistaken for a specific policy in itself, rather this monitored coordination constitutes the way in which polices work and are put into operation in the Bologna Process. The OMC presents the ambition to harmonize the European higher education system through intergovernmental collaboration and extensive standardization as a main technology to govern performance. Standardization, such as the modularization and outcome-orientation of the curriculum, is a form of steering and governing that enables ‘governing at a distance’ (Lawn, 2011; Rosenau, 1992).
This paper argues that the new education standards spread by being circulated through the Bologna Process’ follow-up mechanisms that work as a material-affective infrastructure of the policy ontology (Brøgger & Staunæs, 2016 (In press)). In order to ‘work’, governance needs an infrastructure (Lawn & Segerholm, 2011). The material-affective infrastructure can be seen as the way in which the policy ontology materializes or manifests itself. Infrastructure is that upon which something else works – a type of ‘path-dependence´ (Busch, 2011; Star & Bowker, 2006); in this case paths through which the new standards are circulated. In the OMC the circulation happens through comparisons of national performance data in, for example the Bologna Stocktaking Scorecards. The (in)famous multicolored scorecards use powerful color-coded visuals to compare the progress of implementation of the Bologna standards between member states. The paper argues that the scorecards are affectively wired and work as “a podium where badges of honor and shame are awarded” (Gornitzka, 2005). The scorecards color coding (spanning from green for excellent performance to red for poor performance) works as an alert system that seems to mobilize and modulate certain affective registers making agents want to move from the reddish ‘alert colors’ to the successful green colors (Massumi, 2005; Wetherell, 2012). In this way, the monitoring contributes to an affective politics of naming, shaming and faming that propels the implementation of standards. Through these material-affective processes, governance without government is produced. Member states are made to co-opt themselves into the process through the extensive use of benchmarking and best practice exercises and through this process member states – including experts and peers – become efficient standardizers themselves actively producing and monitoring standardized performance requirements.
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