28 SES 01 A, Sociologies of new space-times of education. An outlook from Italy
Why are we implicated in an endless process of change in education?
Why are quality and efficacy goals continuously moved forward, producing an infinite effort that can never be satisfied?
Pedagogical and technological innovations in education constitute a major issue of the public discourse on educational policies in developed countries. And it is part of a multidimensional speech on innovation and change that invest the educational systems in the world. Moreover, this discourse is consistent with the preconized transformation of the world that has been described with the “performing” concept of “knowledge society”. Another great performing concept that accompanied our imagined future in the last 25 years is the concept of globalisation, which implies the idea of a global competition. This paradigm has been assumed as the fundamental referential of every discourse about innovation and change in the educational field as well in the reform of the job market (“Toward Knowledge Societies”, UNESCO, 2005). To respond to the new imperatives, UNESCO, as the other international agencies, presents the project of an education accompanying every person in the world “from the cradle to the grave” as the fundamental human right to receive an education and as a necessity to prepare everyone to afford a flexible job market. In this way “Long Life Learning” and “Long Guidance” became some of the concepts that found the idea of a “totally pedagogised society”(Bernstein, 2001). In this way Schools and school actors are enrolled in the process of transformation of the economy and society and in the meanwhile their role and function change. In this way, in this preconized world, everyone will be destined to an unending re-educational life. No one might escape this educational machine. Also educators and teachers are condemned to a life of continuous training and examination. Which is the first form of the constant mobilization required by the imperative of the unending change.
Moreover, educational policies are implemented within political agendas and deals with specific political interests (Ball, 2010. Thus, the implementation of a reform deals, first of all, with the construction of a political consensus. In this concern, we may consider that the end goal of the incessant school reforming and innovating is to generate a continual political mobilisation around objects and project established by experts and political actors. This mode of action – which first finality is to produce legitimation – gradually has been generalised to the ensemble of actors within the communitarian space (Robert, 2012, 59). And little by little, administrators, teachers, students and parents are in this way solicited to take sides and engage in public debates. In this sense, everyone is determined to take position or pushed in a position. In one way, the imperative of change, which take the place of the social progress in contemporary capitalist societies (Donzelot, 1992), impose a renewal of the engagement of social actors. Thus, reforms have the primary goal to start a societal mobilisation, so their implementation may be considered as one of the forms of contemporary governmentality, for it produces adhesion, engagement, and beliefs. Following Ball, teachers are not only subject of a discourse but they are actors that have to positioning themselves in respect at this discourse (1998). Reforms and innovations create a continual demand of adhesion and engagement of social actors and they produce the diffusion of common languages and shared definitions and values.
This paper draws on a large array of empirical researches - realized during two decades - on organizational change, reforms and technological innovation in education. On a theoretical standpoint, it wishes to connect the bourdieusian theory of practice with a foucaldian perspective. First of all, I consider the notion of field useful to gain an understanding of how educational systems change. In this sense, the field is not to be understood in realistic terms but as the system of relations within it (Pitzalis, 2010). This notion is particularly helpful to examine the genetic (historical) dimension of social processes and to question the dynamics of social and symbolic domination. We also need conceptual tools that enable us to better understand change and creativity. The question is: which dispositifs have made change possible? As discursive and technical dispositifs, educational policies may be considered as the expression of the heteronomy of the field. In this perspective, change is determined by the strategic behaviours that actors employ to conserve or obtain advantages from a redistribution of resources, thereby transforming the structure of the field. Nevertheless, we think that this interpretation is somewhat lacking in its ability to explain a complexity that incorporates different logic of actions and different actors. For example, the introduction of the logic of accountability in the "university field" demands an explanation of the new dispositions it produces, both in the sense of a conversion of actors' habits (dispositions) and of the emergence of new order between them (dis-position), creating new symbolic and social hierarchies. For example, the retroaction triggered by the deployment of dispositifs such as mensuration, classification, and evaluation has led to a transformation of the social world that was the desired objective itself: a transformation brought about by the very actions of the actors concerned (Cfr. Desrozières, 2011). They have thus become part of a new agencement which comes together in a new order: rules, standards, statistics, institutions and actors. I share M. Callon's exploitation of the notion of agencement, which involves the establishment of an order with a specific design, and implies the emergence of a new frame. This reference seems helpful to explain how an institutionalized field may be affected by a process of change which originated externally, i.e. not in a vertical manner but through the functioning of an ensemble of dispositifs whose combined actions modify the role and the hierarchy of an ensemble of actors.
The notion of “mobilisation” may help to clarify the continuous state of emergency characterizing the prevailing outlook over the educational system. In fact, innovation and reforms solicit a continuous commitment of social actors both in strategies of adhesion and resistance. In this way, everyone has to take side, on a specific policy matter which modify permanently, for it simple effectuality, the focus of the collective attention creating in this way on one hand political consensus on the other a change of the focus of the collective action.
Ball, S. J., 1998, «Big policies/small world: An introduction to international perspectives in education policy», in Comparative Education, 34, 2, pp. 119-130. Ball S.J., 2010, New states, new governance and new education policy. In, The Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Education, Edited by Michael W. Apple, Stephen J. Ball and Luis Armando Gandin. Routledge. Pp. 155-166 Bernstein, B. (2001) From pedagogies to knowledge. In A. Marais, I. Neves, B. Davies and H. Daniels (Eds.), Towards a sociology of pedagogy: the contribution of Basil Bernstein to research. New York: Peter Lang. Bourdieu P., Sur l'Etat, Paris, Ed. du Seuil. Callon, M., 2013, Sociologie des agencements marchands, Paris: Presses des Mines. Callon, M., Millo, Y., & Muniesa, F. (eds.) 2007. Market Devices. Oxford: Blackwell. Deleuze G., 2003, Deux régimes de fous. Textes et entretiens 1975-1995, Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. Desrosières A., 2011, Buono o cattivo? Il ruolo del numero nel governo della città neoliberale, in "Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia", pp. 373-397 Desrosières A., 2014, Prouver et Gouverner. Une analyse politique des statistiques publiques, Paris: La Découverte. Pitzalis, M., 2010, Oltre l'oggettivismo, oltre il soggettivismo, in G. Paolucci (a cura di) Bourdieu oltre Bourdieu, Torino: Utet. Pitzalis, M., 2012, Effetti di campo. Spazio scolastico e riproduzione delle diseguaglianze, in "Scuola Democratica", 6, pp. 26-45, Robert, C. (2012). Les dispositifs d'expertise dans la construction européenne des politiques publiques : quels enseignements ?. Education et sociétés, 29, 57-70.
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