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Open Access Globalization, edu-business and network governance: the policy sociology of Stephen J. Ball and rethinking education policy analysis

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This paper traces developments across Stephen J. Ball's policy sociology in education oeuvre and considers their implications for doing research on education policy today. It begins with an account of his policy sociology trilogy from the 1990s, which outlined his conception of the policy cycle consisting of the contexts of influence, text production and policy practice. It then considers the emergence of a strengthening focus on the global in Ball's work, noting the significance of the 1998 paper, 'Big policies/small world', which demonstrated how policy problems and solutions circulate through global discourses, but are always recontextualized within national policies and practices. Next, the paper reflects on two recent books: Global Education Inc and Networks, New Governance and Education. The former is concerned with the rescaling of the contexts of policy and the enhanced significance of both international organizations and global edu-business in the education policy cycle and the implications for doing policy analysis. The latter employs a network ethnography approach and provides an account of the new network governance in education: the rise of heterarchies, a melange of bureaucracy, markets and networks. The paper concludes by suggesting this account is indicative of the topological turn in culture and social theory. The conclusion gestures towards the implications of this for the policy cycle conception and for doing education policy analysis today, suggesting that Ball's recent work provides the scaffolds of such an approach.

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Keywords: EDU-BUSINESS; GLOBALIZATION; NETWORK GOVERNANCE; POLICY SOCIOLOGY; STEPHEN J. BALL; TOPOLOGY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2013

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  • Founded in 2003 by the UCL Institute of Education, the journal reflects the Institute's broad interests in all types of education in all contexts - local, national, global - and its commitment to analysis across disciplines using a variety of methodologies. It shares the Institute's aspiration to interrogate links between research, policy and practice, and its principled concern for social justice.

    Drawing on these strengths, LRE is a wide-ranging and engaging journal that features rigorous analysis and significant research across key themes in education, including: public goals and policies; pedagogy; curriculum; organization; resources and technology; and institutional effectiveness. Articles and book reviews are written by experts in education, psychology, sociology, policy studies, philosophy and other disciplines contributing to education research, and by experienced researcher-practitioners working in the field. The highest quality of reporting and presentation are ensured through an independent, anonymised peer-review process. As an entirely web-based open access journal, LRE has been able to offer innovative features and formats including: epistolary conversation; colour photos and illustrations; illustrative video clips.

    LRE welcomes relevant articles and book reviews. Please email them to [email protected]

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