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Thinking about gender in comparative education

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Comparative and international education has been both a particularly generative area for the exploration of themes in relation to gender and education, but has also tended to impose limits regarding how gender and education are understood. In reflecting critically on the history of my own work in this field, and some of the early scholarship of the 1970s and 1980s, this article poses questions about how and why particular theorisations of gender and education are selected and used. It also considers how and why particular integrations are made between gender frameworks, what this suggests about comparison, and what pointers this may help to provide for thinking about gender in the contemporary period. The analysis delineates the current epoch as one marked by a shift to a multi-polar world in which forms of political economy are realigning. Shifts associated with changing approaches to the public, the private and the personal entail gender identities and relations reconfiguring and a dispersed set of meanings. One outcome is that it can become difficult to connect ideas about gender in a simple way with an integrated social justice agenda. This has become apparent in education, which is crucial to policies of social protection, enhancing social justice, but is also linked with increasing monetisation of information and of the relationships of learning and teaching. The invocation of gender in both spaces, and the identification of its differences, requires particular acuity. In trying to formulate an approach that speaks to this process and developing a normative compass in contemporary times, the article tries to reflect critically on comparison as an intellectual move and a political position.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Education, University of London, London

Publication date: January 2, 2014

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