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Neither orthodoxy nor randomness: differing logics of conducting comparative and international studies in education

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The issue of the presumed ‘identity’ of Comparative Education as a field of study or a discipline has been discussed for decades. Yet what remains open to question is a kind of systematic structure that provides the basic principles for a coherent exposition of the field. After conceptualising and rejecting almost a dozen possible outlines for such an exposition over recent years, my contention is that ‘Comparative Education’ can no longer be conceived in terms of an imaginary field's coherence – let alone consistency – but, rather, in terms of distinct branches of comparative and international studies in education and their underlying problématiques. Such an understanding is fostered through a deepened awareness of the basic problems, and successive solutions, constitutive of the emergence and further conformations of the comparative approach in education and the social sciences. This requires analyses informed by the sociology and the history of the sciences. Thus, drawing some inspiration from the thought-provoking theses formulated by historical sociologist Friedrich H. Tenbruck, and building on some of my earlier works concerning the history and theory of comparative study, I shall try, in this essay, to untangle the structural distinctions accounting for what I propose to call the ‘epistemo-logic’ of comparative social enquiry proper, the ‘socio-logic’ of reform-orientated international studies on education, and the ‘globo-logic’ of investigating inherently trans-national and/or world-spanning educational phenomena and organisations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Philosophische Fakultät IV, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Publication date: January 2, 2014

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