ERG SES G 10, Social Justice and Education
This paper introduces an international comparative approach to map institutional culture alongside mission statements and policies for anti-discrimination and inclusion-assertion in European higher education. By focusing on the developing procedures accompanying the crafting and settling of respective documents, as well as its referent power, official corporate declarations can be conceptualized as exemplary ‘burning glass’ processes of multiplex negotiation of topicalized and controversial societal issues on representation, selection and participation.
Given the emerging ‘shifts of context’ induced by global challenges of ambiguity, volatility and uncertainty, in which the quest for legitimacy becomes heightened and amplified on various levels, universities become re-considered as ‘open institutions’ that (re-)build symbolic and manifested common reference systems of interpretation. In Europe, as on a global scale, continuing dawns of ‘insecurity’ circle around (im)proper working of democracies, (in)appropriate representation of (dis)advantaged groups, ruptures of the principle of freedom of opinion in the academic sector and (de)valuations of science as unobjective practice of inquiry. “Great social movements carry one organizational reform after another, demand the organizational structuring of this or that new domain, and/or support the penetration of extant organizational down into new levels of social structure.” (Krücken/Röpke 2006: 259). In the background, there is much scientifically supported emphasis on human rights, and rationalistic discussion of the social processes involved (ibid). With an unknown plurality and simultaneity, distilled claims of inopportuneness of conditions for particular social groups permit themselves to point towards blanks and deficiencies in both structural frameworks of education and employment as well as curricular and knowledge-bases of scientific inquiry. This tense setting forms a novel environment for Universities and demands for a re-visit of moves of ‘stipulation’ – of translating, incorporating and dealing processes in the domains of knowledge, subjectivities and learning spaces that coact as ‘organizational culture(s)’ and become(s) functional as structuring and formative patterns of discoursive behavior in and beyond the organization. It is suggested that diversity-policy exemplifies negotiation of moral sets and values within organizational settings to position themselves – that indeed the urge to become diverse - fosters the consolidation of a particular understanding of (in)equality and apprehension of (ascribed) social differences. At the same time, the focus in higher education development is shifted from the organizational arrangement of scientific inquiry towards subjective and ‘indirect’ engagement by ‘managerial’ principles, as has been solidified in research. Despite the findings on their ‘rooting’ domains remain ambiguous, it is found to walk hand in hand with particular (strategic) selection processes, linking structural development to a confined realm of related social and political discourses (migration, demography, etc.) and respective legitimizations for measures of in- and exclusion by the decision-making actors and bodies.. Despite that the negotiation of particular emphases in concept purposes of inclusion prefigure fields of tension among different in-and external group(member)s and stakeholders rather than corporate consent, the quest for organizational legitimacy demands for the production and maintenance of social order, being embedded in the context of ongoing proliferation of ‘soft governance’ styles of education. Hence, an education-sociological analysis of the exchange processes and power relations between internal and external stakeholders is pending in which emphasis is put on the conflictive, political processes around diversity-policy implementation.
Displayed and diffused publically and visibly, diversity policies and statements on equal opportunity/anti-discrimination state one possible consequence of formal alignment practices of positions on the level of symbolic and semantic representation. The analysis will show how the terming and utilization of discrimination-relevant categorical (attributed) ‘differences’ or ‘characteristics’ serve as mirrors of relevance subsidence in different European city Universities and thus pre-shape the outlines of organization cultures in regard to access and agency in education and employment.
To situation the University as such an “actor of society”, the paper introduces an international comparative perspective that aims to pair established studies on educational governance with organization-sociological and intersectional approaches. It is at the point of organizational culture as well as organizational innovation from an inequality-/discrimination and intersectionality-informed educational perspective where this study makes a start to reproduce and understand the exchange, proceeding and negotiation of tacit knowledges, frames of reference and implicit positionings on symbolic and semiotic levels. This approach is deducted from a sociology of in- and exclusion as practices building or hindering participation that is informed by theorems of social justice, non-discrimination and inclusion as ends of education. The paper will introduce an interpretive and reconstructive methodology to analyze mission statements from a total of six Universities in the Netherlands, Finland and Germany to compare and classify organization-cultural particularities with respect to broader contextual developments. The document analysis is part of a multi-level comparative analysis of European Universities. The deployed conceptual framework embraces four dimensions of policy, including normative, structural, constitutive and technical assumptions. Central patterns of knowledge (axiomatic, directory, recipe and dictionary) as well as subjectification (integration, differentiation, fragmentation) are collected, clustered and put into relationship so that divergences between organization charts, policies and mission statements on the one hand and governance as well as community-cultural aspects become comprehensible. It allows for a deeper phenomenological understanding of the dichotomizing mechanisms that translate (perceived) lines of difference into disadvantages in organizational settings, mirroring limited perceptions of human and participation rights.
The presentation will exemplify the different outlays adopted by universities in Europe in regard to social inequalities in education, providing a systematic typology of ‘perceptions’. It thus serve to fill an accounted desideratum in the interdisciplinary conceptualization and investigation of universities as ‘hybrid’ organizations, shaped by economic, educative and pedagogical conditions. The results of the combined content analyses suggests a high variability in the landscape and forcefulness of regulatory influences and motivating forces, internally and externally. Despite common legal frameworks and political governance, universities adopt the endeavor to become an actor in society not purely in hierarchic, “top-down”, but rather in a dispersed and decentralized manner. The difference in addressing, utilization and framing of particular ‘containers’ of meaning in regard to the interpretation of social differences allows a systematic retracing of grown and growing stratified knowledge and relevance-attribution – a global trend, wherein a few schools have taken and defended their role-model status and thus provide templates for shaping regulations and assessments. The conceptual lense of ‘narrative educational culture’ allows for a deeper understanding of (superficially) conform outlay of and (self-)representation through mission statements by giving a comparative overview of the internal epistemic contours and borders of the concept of ‘belonging’. The ways they are functionalized and made ‘intelligible’ as operationalized categories in different higher education settings have a multi-leveled structuralizing and structuring effect and correspond to local profile-building techniques. By retracing the acts of (knowledge) adjustments and contextualization of perceptions of social pluralism, the implicit knowledges and concerns of ordering and prioritization are brought to surface and nuanced in a differentiated ‘range’ of testimonies of (preferred) accomodation.
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