Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Restructuring, Reform and Refraction: Complexities of Response to Imposed Social Change

Buy Article:

$40.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

There is a good deal of ongoing debate about the effects and impacts of globalisation. Many educational theorists (e.g., Meyer et al., 1997) have argued that there is a world systems model at work (see Wallerstein, 2004). And we would agree that a convergent global rhetoric for education has emerged in the neoliberal period. However, whilst at the supra-level of global policy there are clear indicators of world movements and convergent education rhetorics, this poses the question as to how much impact this has on national and local contexts and on ‘policy and practice’. It is therefore possible to envisage a situation where global rhetorics are convergent but national and local policies and practices are divergent. What remains under-researched and definitely under-theorised is how and why these variations at the national local level and at the level of practice actually operate. This is vitally important if we are to have an understanding of the substantial variations in the operation of neo-liberal reform initiatives.

Over the past decade we have been studying the process of variation which we have come to call ‘refraction’. Our work has spanned Europe, South America, the USA and Canada. In each case substantial evidence of refraction was evidenced at national, provincial, local and classroom level (see Goodson & Lindblad, 2010; Goodson, 2014). In the main section we develop a theory of refraction.

What the refraction process warns us of is the ‘unintended consequences’ of symbolic changes and initiatives at the Governmental level. What sets out as being a reform with clear intentions and objectives is actively reinterpreted and reinterpreted at each stage of refraction. On the long journey of school or institutional knowledge, the only way to understand these reinterpretations is to show sensitivity and sympathy to the life missions and intentions involved at each refractive stage. Without this narrative knowledge and without narrative learning, Government intentions can have grievously counter-productive results. It is time therefore to broaden the scope of our research on policy-making and the broad span of the policy process and its subsequent operation.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: educational policy; historical periodization; qualitative methods; refraction theory; social research

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2016

More about this publication?
  • Educational Practice and Theory is a bi-annual, independent, refereed journal which, since its launch in 1978, has become an important independent forum for original ideas in education. It publishes innovative and original research in the area. Its focus is both applied and theoretical and it seeks articles from a diverse range of themes and countries.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more