'Peopling' curriculum policy production: researching educational governance through institutional ethnography and Bourdieuian field analysis

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Journal Article
Journal Of Education Policy, 2013, 28 (1), pp. 1 - 28
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This paper explores the methodological basis for empirically researching moments of major policy change. Its genesis is in the methodological challenges presented by the initial stages of an ongoing research project examining the current attempts to establish the first nation-wide Australian curriculum. We draw on Dorothy Smith's development of institutional ethnography and Bourdieuian field analysis to outline a methodological framework for research that has at its centre a concern to understand the social and institutional processes that enable, support and discursively prepare for significant educational reform. Working with and between these two eminent contributions to sociological enquiry, our paper explores the ways in which research can trace educational governance through the production, reproduction and subsequent enactment of generations of policy texts even before they are officially released for use in schools. In particular, we suggest that examination of the day-to-day processes involved in policy production shows how policy texts are progressively invested with institutional meanings and come to instantiate and govern institutional relations. The methodology we are developing foregrounds the creation and dissemination of discourses that support specific orientations to educational practice and governance, as well as the institutional practices that embed the logics of the field.
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