23 SES 11 B, Post-Critical Policy Scholarship? Deliberations around Ontological and Epistemological Politics
Topic: The symposium considers the possibilities of/ for post-critical education policy scholarship, in light of the research that is reported on in each of the papers. We will discuss the practical and conceptual predicaments of policy change and research, and open up questions about the process of a post-critical ‘calculation’: not to silence or reject criticality, but we consider whether, to what extent and how, we might expand the ambit of critical scholarship so that research can report on, inform and change policy and knowledge realities.
Objective: Our objective in this symposium is to discuss and formulate responses to problems connected to the politics of policy, education and change; how researchers, schools and policy actors articulate agendas, enact policy, and respond to one another and/ or to broader discourses. The papers, from England, Sweden and Australia, show how contemporary policy settings instigate ontological and epistemological predicaments for educators and researchers and open up questions about whose, and what, knowledge counts where, why, how and when.
Conceptual/Theoretical Framework: We will explore two broad conceptual frames. The first concerns the possibilities of ‘thinking par le milieu’ (Stengers, 2005). We discuss whether, and/or to what extent, we can explain or analyse what others are doing without ongoing and direct engagement with the problems that they themselves face. In a normative way, we ask, do we have to work cautiously and care- fully (Mol, Moser, & Pols, 2015), with, and into, the situations created by both others’ responsibilities and obligations (Stengers, 2005) – and our own? We wonder how to work in in the midst of ‘our’ entangled emergent systemic responsibilities (see Barad , 2007) where our research agendas and programs will have to withstand the ‘objections’ that emerging research situations raise against them, to make a ‘response’ (Haraway, 2015; Heimans, Singh, & Glasswell, 2017) with some well-calculated abilities. These abilities are tempered by the self-reflexive irony (Jessop, 2003a) that is necessary to carry on working with others in generating changes in governance ‘upwards’. The second question concerns the scalar politics of educational change and the contemporary spatio-temporal fixes (Jessop, 2003b)that are underpinned by “high-autonomy-high-accountability quasi-market school reforms” (Greany & Waterhouse, 2016). These produce absent and present presences and open questions about horizontal and vertical knowledge discourses and practices amidst changing European governance of governance (Jessop, 2008)regimes. Questions about whose, and what, knowledge counts, why, how, for what, and where arise- with important social, structural and material effects and how ‘we’ might “act differently” as a result.
Methods: The papers from England and Sweden report on research that show the effects of changing policies on practitioners and/ or researchers, from welfarist/ democratic to new managerialist/ performative policy initiatives in Sweden, and from policy-initiated curriculum reform in England. These papers highlight the contradictoriness of change and invite broader questions about the politics of, and the relations between, research, knowledge, policy formulation and enactments, and critical scholarship. The papers from Australia offer conceptual and practical resources for initiating and sustaining change from the ground up, and for strengthening critical scholarship activity withothers. This is important when considering both the porosity of the nation state to ‘travelling’ policy concepts from elsewhere (viz. ‘policy as numbers’ (Lingard, 2011), and the governance questions that arise in light of new right-wing nationalist movements.
Research Questions: How do we conceptualise the procedures and constraints of policy making at the local, the national and the global level. Whose knowledge, and what kinds of knowledge, count and are valued in the policy process, and why? What are the implications of the increasingly global flow of knowledge for policy and policy processes?
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press. Greany, T., & Waterhouse, J. (2016). Rebels against the system: Leadership agency and curriculum innovation in the context of school autonomy and accountability in England. International Journal of Educational Management,, 30(7), 1188-1206. Haraway, D. (2015). Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin. Environmental Humanities, 6(1), 159-165. doi:10.1215/22011919-3615934 Heimans, S., Singh, P., & Glasswell, K. (2017). Doing education policy enactment research in a minor key. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 38(2), 185-196. doi:10.1080/01596306.2015.1074428 Jessop, B. (2003a). Governance and Metagovernance: On Reflexivity, Requisite Variety, and Requisite Irony. Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, 1-12. Retrieved from http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/papers/Jessop- Governance-and-Metagovernance.pdf Jessop, B. (2003b). The Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Capital and its Globalization - and how they Challenge State Power and Democracy. Retrieved from Lancaster: Jessop, B. (2008). State power: a strategic-relational approach. Malden, MA: Polity. Lingard, B. (2011). Policy as numbers: ac/counting for educational research. The Australian Educational Researcher, 38(4), 355-382. doi:10.1007/s13384-011-0041-9 Mol, A., Moser, I., & Pols, J. (2015). Care in Practice: On Tinkering in Clinics, Homes and Farms: transcript Verlag. Stengers, I. (2005). Introductory notes on an ecology of practices. Cultural Studies Review, 11(1), 183-196.
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