23 SES 12 C, Governance, Standards and Power
Research on education policy addresses key questions about modes of governance and their relations to autonomy and accountability. This includes research that targets international, national and local modes of governance by exploring issues of juridical (Karseth & Møller, 2018), technological and material (Fenwick & Landri, 2012; Decuypere, 2016), numerical and digital (Ozga et al., 2013; Grek et al., 2009) developments in educational policy. There is a growing interest in exploring how the professional work of local actors may be altered by recent developments of the mentioned issues, and how this may result in modes of governance that stretches beyond the state apparatus (Rose & Miller, 2010).
European and Anglo-American education systems have for the last twenty years seen a shift in governance and leadership models (Maroy, 2008), and countries such as Ireland and Norway are currently undergoing similar changes in national education policy through for instance renewals and digitalization of curricula (Department of Education and Skills, 2015; Ministry of Education and Research, 2016). Issues of accountability are prominent in policy discourse in both countries (Mac Ruairc & Harford, 2008; Skedsmo & Møller, 2016). Accountability systems are central to policy and to practice, and as such it serves to explore new modes of governance that may be emerging, and potential consequences for the professional work of local actors.
The purpose of this paper is to examine how modes of educational governance in Ireland and Norway have evolved and changed with regards to technologies of government. The paper is guided by the following research questions; a) how are local actors’ role framed and presented in key policy documents in Ireland and Norway, and b) how is the space for professional judgement constructed within key policy documents in Ireland and Norway?
These two countries are interesting cases for research because they are both in the process of introducing similar changes to national educational policy. For instance, both are implementing interdisciplinary learning in schools in form of skills, themes and subjects. Moreover, both countries are revising their assessment systems, and assessment and the national curricula are in the process of becoming digitalized (Department of Education and Skills, 2015; Ministry of Education and Research, 2016). However, their governing structures are somewhat different; Ireland has traditionally had a strong emphasis on external evaluations, school inspections and privatization through the Catholic Church, while Norway has a stronger tradition of public schooling and professional accountability (Mac Ruairc and Harford, 2008; Skedsmo & Møller, 2016). A comparison of policy between Ireland and Norway will shed light on similarities and differences. In particular, we are concerned with the authorities’ projects, plans and practices (Rose and Miller, 2010) and the technologies that are designed to put governmental ambitions into effect.
Government is more than ‘the power of the State’ and stretches to a multitude of mechanisms, techniques and networks (Kooiman, 1993; Rose and Miller, 2010). Connections are established between the ambitions of authorities (put forward through language) and the performative activities of individuals and groups (Rose and Miller, 2010). Bruno Latour (1987) suggests that we need to see governance as a notion of inscription devices, the ‘representation’ of governmental goals in material form, and the notion of centers of calculation that can provide numeric information about educational goals and standards. He suggests that power can only be stabilized through materialized forms – school curricula, obligations, books, techniques for documentation and calculation and so forth. When power is materialized, people are easily mobilized to help the cause (Latour, 1987). This paper uses Latour’s notion of power as a point of entry to examine how technologies may bring forward governmental ambitions and performances.
In this paper, we view policy documents both as written texts, and as performance. We are interested in examining how policy may be attributing certain roles and functions to local actors through technologies of governance. To analyze both the content and the performative aspects of documents we will use conceptual analysis developed on the basis of the theoretical, in particular based on Latour’s conceptualization of power. To guide our conceptual analysis, we make use of Ragin & Amoroso’s (2011) understanding of images. They argue images in social science research are created through developing ideas from analytical frameworks. Our paper is guided by this notion, and we understand images as an attempt to make sense of data through creating linkages to ideas, or concepts, emerging from the analytical framework. Key policy documents from Ireland and Norway will be examined from the period of 2000-2018, and includes documents such as White Papers and Green Papers (i.e. government reports). Our paper will inquire into how different policy documents in Ireland and Norway frame and construct a professional space for local actors’ through technologies of governance. Hence, the paper solely utilizes documents as sources of data. In social science, comparative research aims to contribute to examining patterns of similarities and differences on a meso-level (Ragin and Amoroso, 2011). The comparative dimension of our paper aims to shed light on similarities and differences of technologies of government within and across two European countries, and Ireland and Norway are treated as two separate cases. Guided by the theoretical, the documents are compared with regard to governmental projects, plans and practices that are set forward through different technologies in material form. By analyzing two countries that traditionally differ somewhat in governance modes, we aim to provide a contextual analysis as well.
Previous research within educational governance have identified a wide range of technologies that are developed by authorities to reach their aims (i.e. Decuypere, 2016; Ozga, 2009). Based on these findings, we expect to locate the diverse technologies governing bodies use in order to put their ambitions forward, and how the types of technologies, their characteristics and performance have changed throughout the 2000s. We expect to find a growth in inscription and calculation processes (Latour, 1978) in the later policy documents, which may suggest a materialization of power, as described by Bruno Latour. The usage of a variety of technologies of government may suggest an assemblage of actors, where a specific technology can be an active actor in itself (Decuypere, 2016). By examining key policy documents in Ireland and Norway, we expect to identify which actors that are enrolled in the documents, both human and non-human, and what this presence may imply for the work of local actors. This implies that governmental power stretches beyond the State (Rose and Miller, 2010) and we expect to find a network of governmental technologies that all may play an active role in putting educational policy to life. Lastly, we expect to find both commonalities and differences between our two cases in our comparative dimension. We expect that the similarities and differences will provide insight into a broader discussion of current modes of governance in education and how this may affect professional work on the local level.
Decuypere, M. (2016). Diagrams of Europeanization: European education governance in the digital age. Journal of Education Policy, 31 (6): 851-872. Department of Education and Skills. (2015). Framework for Junior Cycle. Dublin: Department of Education and Skills. Fenwick, T. and Landri, P. (2012). Materialities, textures and pedagogies: socio-material assemblages in education. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 20:1, 1.-7. DOI: 10.1080/14681366.2012.649421 Grek, S., M. Lawn, B. Lingard, J. Ozga, R. Rinne, C. Segerholm, and H. Simola. 2009. “National Policy Brokering and the Construction of the European Education Space in England, Sweden, Finland and Scotland.” Comparative Education ,45 (1): 5–21. Hall, J. & Sivesind, K. (2015). State school inspection policy in Norway and Sweden (2002–2012): a reconfiguration of governing modes?, Journal of Education Policy, 30:3, 429-458. Karseth, B. & Møller, J. (2018) Legal Regulation and Professional Discretion in School. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, DOI: 10.1080/00313831.2018.1531918 Kooiman, J. 1993. “Social-Political Governance: Introduction.” In Modern Governance: New Government – Society Interactions, edited by J. Kooimann, 1–6. London: Sage Latour, B. (1978). Science in Action. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Mac Ruairc, G. and Harford, J. (2008). Researching the Contested Place of Reflective Practice in the Emerging Culture of Performativity in Schools: view from the Republic of Ireland. European Educational Research Journal, 7 (4), 501-511 Maroy, C. (2008). The New Regulation Forms of Educational Systems in Europe: Towards a Post-bureaucratic Regime. In N.C. Soguel and P.Jaccord (eds), Governance and Performance of Education Systems (p.13-33). Luxembourg: Springer. Ministry of Education and Research. (2016). Fag-Fordypning- Forståelse. En fornyelse av Kunnskapsløftet. [Subjects, In-depth learning – Understanding. A renewal of the Knowledge Promotion Reform]. Report No. 28 to the Storting [Parliament] 2015-2016. Oslo: Norwegian Government Service Centre. Ozga, J., Baxter, J., Clarke, J., Grek, S and Lawn, M. (2013) ‘The Politics of Educational Change: Governing and School Inspection in England and Scotland’ Swiss Journal of Sociology 39(2) 205-224. Ragin, C.C. and Amoroso, L. (2011). Constructing Social Science Research (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications. Rose, N. and Miller, P. (2010). Political power beyond the State: problematics of government. British Journal of Sociology 61, (1), 271- 303. Skedsmo & Møller (2016) Governing by new performance expectations in Norwegian schools. In H. Gunter, E. Grimanldi, D. Hall & R. Serpieri, European lessons for policy and practice (pp. 53-65), London: Routledge.
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