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Co-production of comparative education research and welfare state education policy.

Conference contribution
Authors Rita Foss Lindblad
Sverker Lindblad
Daniel Pettersson
Gun-Britt Wärvik
Published in The program for the Comparative and International Education Society Conference 2018 in Mexico City.
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Links https://cies2018.org/cies-2018-prog...
https://convention2.allacademic.com...
Keywords Science-Society Interaction, Education Policy Research, Comparative Education, International Large Scale Assessments, Agora
Subject categories Pedagogy

Abstract

The focus of this study is the intimate relations between educational research and its social and political embeddings, seen through the lenses of international large-scale assessments (ILSA) such as the IEA TIMSS- and the OECD PISA-programs. While increasing influence of these assessments on educational policies is widely recognized (e.g. Ozga & Lingard, 2007) and the meta-theoretical rationality on which they are operating (Grek, 2009), the constitutive elements and dynamics involved in producing their success stand out as a more open question (e.g. Wagner, 1987, on national variations). Our case is the transition of Swedish Welfare State (SWS) after WW2 and the development of international comparative research in education. With the specific ambition of not letting us fall into the pitfalls of science/politics dichotomies, we are addressing the dynamics of science/society coproduction (Nowotny et al, 2003; Jasanoff et al, 2001). This case is of significant interest: Firstly, the SWS had a recognized centralistic organization with high reliance on science (Fridjonsdottir, 1987). This organization restructured thoroughly in the 1990s with an increasing emphasis of ILSA (Lindblad, Pettersson & Popkewitz, 2015). Secondly, in the emergence of international assessments Swedish researchers played an important role (Husén & Postlethwaite, 1996). The specific time-space reveals uneven patterns in science/society coproduction where IEA is manifesting success as well as a breaking-point in a today highly weakened regime of how the relevance of international comparative education is to be secured, and what this means. Our study is based on a combination of policy documents from state commissions and parliamentary bills, research reports and evaluations of ongoing changes in policy and research as. We identified characteristic phases in the welfare state governance from expansion and centralistic governance over deregulation and decentralization and later into the introduction of a voucher system and governing by results. The analyses resulted in three major conclusions: − At the start comparative education research was rare and had a humanistic base in comprehending education in other contexts. The emerging ILSA was based in the social sciences where comparisons centered on differences in efficiency over national contexts. − During the first decades of ILSA there was little evidence of societal relevance, e.g. in use for policy decisions and reform initiatives. However, the societal relevance increased drastically, given the restructuring of the educational system and the increasing importance given to supranational organizations. − ILSA was from the beginning strongly contextualized and dependent on external resources. The making of the IIE opened up new possibilities for ILSA in Academia, but it is the more recent changes in governance and changes in methodology as well as technology that has allowed the success and dominance of ILSA in research and policy discourses Given these conclusions ILSA turned out to be a successful but contested approach to educational research. For the coproduction of science/society the combination of a strong emphasis on ILSA in social and political discourses on education plus the closing down of the International Institute of Education and the transfer of PISA studies to Pearson is congenial to this development.

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