23 SES 01 C, Policy Processes and Sources of Legitimation in Decision Making 1
The issue of legitimacy of decision-making in the realm of educational policy and practice remained largely neglected in empirical research for a long time. Legitimacy became a major concern after the 1970s when western welfare states were simultaneously confronted with a rapid expansion of higher education and increasing budgetary problems. However, attention was given to a one-dimensional view of the resulting ‘crisis’ of legitimacy and to its interpretation in terms of economic rationality, effectiveness and efficiency on one hand and equity on the other. As a consequence, the datum points were taken for granted, possible alternatives remained largely unexplored, and – as illustrated by the initiatives of OECD and other powerful actors – research focused on the measurement of the extent to which education systems met corresponding expectations.
In a broader exploration this paper focuses on the criteria that make decisions on public education appear as socially acceptable. Using the example of decision-making in curriculum development it asks (a) for the rationales behind the processes conferring legitimacy to decisions in educational policy and practice. By addressing the issue in an international comparative perspective it adds (b) the question to what extent such rationales are of a universal, i.e. global nature or dependent on peculiarities of national contexts. While neo-institutionalist scholars might favor the first perspective (Meyer & Ramirez 2000; Fiala & Lanford 1987) others would emphasize path-dependency, a high impact of ‘local’ culture and varying relationships networks (Schriewer 2000; Green et al. 1999).
References Drori, G.S., J.W. Meyer, F.O. Ramirez and E. Schofer (2003). Science in the modern world polity. Institutionalization and globalization. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Fiala, R. and A.G. Lanford (1987).Educational ideology and the world educational revolution, 1950-1970. Comparative Education Review 31, No. 3: 315-332. Green, A., A. Wolf and T. Leney (1999). Convergence and divergence in European education and training systems. London: University of London, Institute of Education. Meyer, J.W. and F.O. Ramirez (2000). The world institutionalization of education. In: J. Schriewer, ed., Discourse Formation in Comparative Education: 111-132. Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang. Schriewer, J. (2000). World system and interrelationship networks: The internationalization of education and the role of comparative inquiry. In: T.S. Popkewitz, ed., Educational knowledge. Changing relationships between the state, civil society, and the educational community: 305-343. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
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