23 SES 12 C, Examining Educational Change Within and Between National Policy Spaces Using Discursive Institutionalism
Over the past decades the field of curriculum theory (CT) has experienced somewhat of a ‘transnational turn’ that has revived its interest for how to address, understand and explain the role of transnational forces and actors as drivers of curriculum change (Andersson-Levitt, 2008, Nordin & Sundberg, 2014). As a consequence of this development it has become necessary for scholars in the field of CT to reinvent their analytical tools (cf. Young, 2013; Deng, 2015) in order to facilitate an understanding of curriculum-making as a complex and multi-directional practice taking place in the interplay between policy actors at transnational, national as well as local arenas comprising multiple endogenous and exogenous forces and determinants. In response to such a need for scholars within the field of CT to reinvent their analytical tools (cf. Deng, 2015) the aim of this article is to develop a conceptual framework for analyzing curriculum change that takes into account this ‘transnational turn’ within CT. In doing so we turn to discourse-institutionalism (DI) as outlined by Vivien Schmidt (2010, 2011, 2016) proposing a stratified understanding of ideas operating at different policy levels, from philosophical ideas that are very stable over time, to programmatic ideas that changes somewhat easier to policy ideas who can change rapidly in order to capture the transformation of ideas travelling between different arenas and used by different actors. The different ideas are in turn related to the five categories arenas (where?), actors (who?), content (what?), language (how?) and legitimation (why?). Bringing these different categories together facilitates a coherent analysis of curriculum change simultaneously acknowledging the power of discourse and the possibility of agency. Ongoing research on the most recent Swedish curriculum reform, Lgr 11 is used to provide empirical illustrations of how the framework and its concepts can be used for theoretical analyses and methodological designs especially focusing travelling curriculum policies on ‘key competencies’.
Anderson-Levitt KM. (2008). Globalization and Curriculum. In: Connelly F, Michael F. He, MF and Phillion, JA (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, pp. 349-368. Deng, Z. (2015). Content, Joseph Schwab and German Didaktik. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 47(6), 773-786. Nordin & Sundberg (2014) The making and governing of knowledge in the educational field. In Nordin, A & Sundberg, D (Eds.) Transnational policy-flows in European education – the making and governing of knowledge in the education policy field. Oxford: Symposium books. Schmidt, Vivien A. 2010. Taking Ideas and Discourses Seriously: Explaining Change Through Discursive Institutionalism as the Fourth ‘New Institutionalism’. European Political Science Review, 2 (1): 1–25. Schmidt, V. (2011) Speaking of change: why discourse is key to the dynamics of policy transformation. Critical Policy Studies, 5(2), 106-126. Schmidt, V. (2016). The roots of neo-liberal resilience: Explaining continuity and change in background ideas in Europe’s political economy. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 18(2), 318-334. Young, M. (2013). Overcoming the crisis in curriculum theory: A knowledge-based approach. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 45(2), 101-118.
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