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A Political Sociology of Education Policy

Helen M Gunter

The segregation of education services is based on an education reform claimocracy that espouses eugenicist beliefs in order to sustain oligarchic club sovereignty as modern and modernising. The book presents empirical data and conceptual analysis from a range of projects to understand and explain segregation through undertaking a political sociology of education policy.

Chapter 1 Introduction: Education Reform Claimocracy
This introduction presents the case for a political sociology of education policy in order to understand and explain the use of an education reform claimocracy to defend and promote segregated education. Based on empirical and conceptual work from the Education Policy Knowledgeable Polities projects the case is made for the interplay and deployment of Arendtian and Bourdieusian thinking tools to reveal policy violence. This policy violence is authorised, legitimate and intelligent, and is examined in Part 1 of the book. Understandings and explanations of policy violence are presented in Part 2 of the book through a Thinking Politically-Sociologically Framework (TPSF) that includes: vantage points, viewpoints, regimes of practices, exchange relationships, and the intellectual histories underpinning knowledge production for and about policy.

Part 1: A political sociology of education policy

Chapter 2 Modernising Education
Segregated education services are enabled through eugenicist populism, and the chapter examines five main modernisation trends in general and in education policy that enable and sustain the eugenicist fabrications that are used to justify selection and secession. Policy violence is examined through a focus on social mobility as a form of legitimised violence. While the ERC uses the language of aspiration and opportunity, the continued investment in segregation based on natural inferiority-superiority limits aspirations and opportunities for the majority of children.

Chapter 3 Governing by Knowledge Production
Segregated education services are enabled through how private and globalised oligarchies occupy the state and use governing to control the ERC through knowledge production. Oligarchies are promoters and beneficiaries of depoliticization, and three forms in general and in education policy are identified: depoliticised privatism, corporatisation and populism. Policy violence is examined through a focus on problem solving as a form of authorised violence. While the ERC focuses on the centrality of improvement and effectiveness through problem identification and solutions, in reality power is evacuated, relationality silenced and action denied.

Chapter 4 Policy Mortality
Segregated education services are enabled through the use of failure, as policy mortality, that is integral to education policy. Children, professionals and schools have to experience the fear and actuality of failure for markets and choice to operate. The ERC is a product of and shapes the knowledgeable state, where the Education Policy Knowledgeable Polity projects demonstrate data and analysis in four main themes: Theme 1 system design; Theme 2 the workforce; Theme 3 policy actors; and Theme 4 knowledge production. Policy violence is examined through a focus on problem solving as a form of intelligent violence that is weaponised, calculated and enacted. While the ERC focuses on what is worth knowing about because it works, in reality this turns schools into what Arendt identifies as deserts.

Part 2: A political sociology of education policy in action

Chapter 5 Vantage Points
The starting point of the TPSF is to examine vantage points or the organisational location of the person or group involved in the claimocracy. Four vantage points are examined: core, privileged, marginal and othered, and the data show that the prime vantage point is the core. A case study from Theme 1: System Design is presented, where data and analysis are used to demonstrate policy violence through the dismantling of the local government provision of school places and its replacement with academies.

Chapter 6 Viewpoints
Following on from examining vantage points within the TPSF is the need to investigate viewpoints or the knowledge production position of the person or group who create and espouse the claimocracy. Three ontological and epistemological positions are identified: positivist, interpretive and critical, and based on this four knowledge production and viewpoints are presented: functional science, normative instrumentalism, narrative description and critical social justice. It is argued that a hybrid of positivist functional science and normative instrumentalism dominates that is called normative functionalism. A case study from Theme 2: Workforce is presented, where data and analysis are used to demonstrate policy violence towards the profession.

Chapter 7 Regimes of Practice
Following on from examining vantage points and viewpoints within the TPSF is the need to investigate regime inter-connections that enable the claimocracy. Three types of regimes are identified: state, satellite and star, where state regimes dominate, this is examined through a study of the Conservative Privatisation Regime, and the New Labour Performance Regime. A case study from Theme 3: Policy Actors is presented, where data and analysis are used to demonstrate policy violence towards the profession regarding the imposition of leaders and follower hierarchy.

Chapter 8 Exchange Relationships
Following on from examining vantage points, viewpoints and regimes within the TPSF is the need to investigate exchange relationships that secure the claimocracy. Five forms of exchange relationships are presented: personal, employment, project, socio-political and cultural, and it is argued that personal-cultural contractualism dominates. A case study from Theme 3: Policy Actors is presented, where data and analysis about local policymaking are used to demonstrate policy violence through how strategic and tactical change are understood and engaged with regarding academisation.

Chapter 9 Critical Education Policy Studies
Following on from examining vantage points, viewpoints, regimes and exchange relationships within the TPSF is the need to investigate the knowledge production that underpins the claimocracy. Four policy positions in relation to criticality within Critical Education Policy Studies are identified: description, science, entrepreneurialism, and scholarship, where the primacy of entrepreneurialism is examined. A case study from Theme 4: Knowledge Production is presented where the writing and conceptualisation of intellectual histories demonstrates how policy violence is based on recognising wants, needs and likes, and the denial of intellectual activism.

Chapter 10 Conclusion: Intellectual Activism
This chapter is the conclusion to the book, and a summary of the arguments about segregation and eugenics in education is provided by using the Thinking Politically-Sociologically Framework. The argument is that political sociology enables the Critical Education Policy Studies field to think productively in relation to, first, a political sociology of and about the education reform claimocracy; and second, a political sociology for and by the field regarding positioning within and in relation to the claimocracy. It is argued that research and scholarship within and by the field of Critical Education Policy Studies is in danger and so may find the adoption of little agoras and intellectual activism helpful regarding revitalising the purposes and practices of research.

Advanced ordering: 
https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/a-political-sociology-of-education-policy

This book is the third in a trilogy:
https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/leadership-and-the-reform-of-education

https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/the-politics-of-public-education