23 SES 13 E, School Governance
Governance, as a form of societies organisation, is characterized by shifts in roles and forms of power relations within states (Jessop, 1998) and in recent years it has been strengthened and expanded in Europe, not only in societies which had decentralized administrations (England, Sweden), but also in societies where administration has traditionally been centralized (France, Greece). European governance highlights new forms of institutions functioning, which seem to abandon the traditional hierarchy of political decision-making and calls for actors’ involvement (Lawn and Grek, 2012). In this context, it is interesting to highlight some specific characteristics of European Governance. Particularly, in Greece, the prolonged economic crisis has favored governance forms emergence through implicit networks (Alexiadou, 2016). Especially, in education field, a non-institutional network has emerged and has been established in the context of a rhetoric promoting students’ excellence which essentially concealed the intention to ‘privatise’ a particular type of public school. The network has been activated (mainly through the organization of conferences, seminars, public speeches), putting pressure and thus having influence on educational policy issues decisions.
The action of this network concerned the preservation of 55 public schools, called Selective Schools, which had been in operation till 2015 and their function was changed in May 2015 by the new leftish government, with a fundamental ideopolitical interpretation, that the pursuit of excellence removes the equalising school social principle. However, under the pressure of the above-mentioned network, 5 of these Selective Schools have been preserved, because it was recognised their historical significance as their operation had been connected with the educational tradition of the Greek society.
The emergence and action of the above mentioned network was interpreted (Tsakiris, Samara and Kallimani, 2016) as an incitement of a part of the upper middle class that used its cultural and social capital to achieve a mobilisation capable of influencing political decisions (Ball and Exley, 2010), which would allow to usurp the specific schools of public education with ideological vehicle the excellence so that the Selective Schools might operate in terms of ‘privatisation’. Privatisation here is understood as ‘ideological privatisation’ of this class (Whitty, 2000) in order to ensure a successful study in the public education combining and coupling their cultural and instructive capital with their social capital (van Zanten, 2015).
In this study we analyse and interpret material collected from the public placements of social key actors or stakeholders (Boltanski & Thevenot, 1999) which are involved in this network and participate in state and private bodies, local and international authorities, organisations, pressure groups. Emphasis is placed on the interpretation and hence on the attempted rationalisation that they themselves advocate for their involvement and action in the particular networks (Boltanski, 2011), as well as on the ways through which they manage to influence the decision making of educational policy.
The research questions that arise from the above are:
A) What are the deeper motivations of involvement of social key actors in the preservation of Selective Schools and, by extension, in the promotion of privatisation to achieve excellence in public education in Greece?
B) In what ways policy network manages to interfere into a centralised educational political system such as the Greek one and influence the political decision making?
In conclusion, this research seeks in understanding and interpreting an educational and wider social phenomenon, meaning the way in which the operation of a centralised education system allows governance networks to act, so as to enlighten the possible change of boundaries in policy making (Jessop, 2002), as the balance of forces among policy actors varies from country to country and is a dynamic state of affairs (Ball, 2009).
The present study, focusing on the study of the educational policy network, considers this as an analytical tool where both quantitative and qualitative approaches are utilised (Borzel, 1997). As Kenis & Schneider (1991) note, network analysis is a toolbox for describing and measuring relational configurations and their structural characteristics. The data has been collected from archive material taken from the book of parliamentary acts, press media, and conferences in the process of public debate in Greece before and after passing the relative law in 2015, that alters the functioning of Selective schools. This material reflects the relationships of the various actors interesting for the institution of these schools, both at the national and supranational level, and contains the considerations, attitudes and perspectives of these collective and individual social key actors involved in the specific policy networks. At the level of the Quantitative Approach (Interest Intermediation), the structure of the network and its type are illustrated, as well as the relations of the state with the actors in the policy process and the arising results of the educational policy, meaning the form of decisions (Lehmbruch, 1991). In this way we look forward to highlighting the institutionalisation of power relations among the various social key actors involved in this network (Marsh and Smith, 2000). Then, considering networks as a special form of governance, we use the Governance School approach to identify and analyse ways of interacting among public and private actors involved in policy making. In this context, we focus on how social key actors rationalise their participation in education policy networks, interpret and give meaning to their actions (Borzel, 1997, Rhodes, 2006). The archive material is analysed at a first level quantitatively in order to illustrate the specific policy network related to the support or not of the Selective public schools, i.e. the number and type of actors, the structure and function of the educational network, as well as the power relations or the conditions of co-existence in it (van Waarden, 1992). On the second level, the archive material is evaluated qualitatively through the analysis of the content categorised in thematic categories (modules) that are related to the issues studied in this research. We use both quantitative and qualitative approach to network analysis because these two methodological approaches complement each other and give a comprehensive understanding and interpretation of the issues that are studied.
In the context of this work, we intend to highlight the impacts of the intense ideological dialogue that has developed between pressure groups which had in mind the usurpation of certain public schools (Selective Schools), urging their preservation, and the government, which, in the name of the rhetoric of equalising schools, attempted to abolish them. In this study, first it is expected the structure of operating non-established educational policy networks to emerge, their behavior to be analysed and the outcome of their action in policy-making on this issue to be interpreted. It is particularly interesting to be revealed what levels and functional areas of government and society the actors come from, as well as the type of interests they represent (corporate or collective). Through the structure and the analytical approach of the above links and the relations they produce, which are not always obvious, it is initially attempted to detect both these relations and their kind (interaction, interdependence, power, diachronic, cross-domain, trust, informal interpersonal etc.). Also, with a critical decomposition of considerations, attitudes and perspectives of these collective and individual actors, it is expected their action and their behavioral limits options to be justified in relation to the government's attitude against the issue and the result that was obtained (Boltanski, 2011). Without overlooking the difficulty of defining the impact of policy networks on the effectiveness of policy-making and results in a centralised system such as that of Greece, we expect with the analysis of the specific governmental treatment of the network, the form of Governance in Greece to be enlightened, mainly the relationships among government, society and market in terms of how effective the collective action can be in policy-making, the extent to which the interests affect making decisions and whether there are some flexible forms of resource allocation.
Alexiadou, N. (2016). Responding to ‘crisis’: Education policy research in Europe. Research in education, 96(1), 23–30. Ball, S.J. (2009) ‘Privatising Education, Privatising Education Policy, Privatising Educational Research: Network governance and the ‘competition state’, Journal of Education Policy, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 83-99. Ball, S.J. and Exley, S. (2010) ‘Making policy with ‘good ideas’: policy networks and the ‘intellectuals’ of New Labour’, Journal of Education Policy, 25:2, 151-169. Boltanski, L. and Thévenot, L. (1999) ‘The Sociology of Critical Capacity’, European Journal of Social Theory 2(3): 359–377. Boltanski, L. (2011). On critique: A sociology of emancipation. Cambridge: Polity. Borzel, T. A. (1997) ‘What’s so special about policy networks? An exploration of the concept and its usefulness in studying European Governance’, European Integration online Papers (EIoP), 16/1 Jessop, B. (1998) ‘The rise of governance and the risks of failure: The case of economic development’ International Social Science Journal, 50(155), 29–45. Jessop, B. (2002) The future of the capitalist state, Cambridge: Polity. Kenis, P. and Schneider, V. (1991). ‘Policy Networks and Policy Analysis: Scrutinizing a New Analytical Toolbox’, in Marin and Mayntz (eds.). 1991a. 25-59. Lawn, M. and Grek, S. (2012) Europeanizing education. Governing a new policy space, Oxford: Symposium. Lehmbruch, G. (1991). ‘The Organisation of Society, Administrative Strategies, and Policy Networks’, in Czada, R. and Windhoff-Héritier, A. (eds.). 1991. Political Choice- Institutions, Rules and the Limits of Rationality, Frankfurt aM: Campus: 25-59. Marsh, D. and Smith, M. (2000) ‘Understanding policy networks: Towards a dialectical approach’, Political Studies 48, no. 1:4-21. Rhodes, R.A.W. (2006), ‘Policy network analysis’, in Moran, M., Rein, M. and Goodin, editor-R. E., The Oxford handbook of public policy, Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 425–443 Tsakiris, D., Samara, A. T., Kallimani, M. (2016). ‘An Emerging Type of ‘Privatisation’ at Public Schools and the Role of Political and Social Networks in Accessing Educational ‘Elites’, Presented at ECER 2016: ‘Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers’, Dublin, 23-26 August 2016. van Zanten, A. (2015). ‘A family affair: Reproducing elite positions and preserving the ideals of meritocratic competition and youth autonomy’. In: van Zanten, A., Ball, S. J. and Darchy-Koechlin, B., eds. World Yearbook of Education, 2015. London, U. K.: Routledge. van Waarden, F. (1992). ‘Dimensions and types of policy networks’, in Jordan and Schubert (eds.). 29-52.
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