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The critical challenge: Policy networks and market models for education

Lubienski, C. (2018) The critical challenge: Policy networks and market models for education. Policy Futures in Education, 16 (2). pp. 156-168.

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This paper reviews a number of approaches to considering how policy transfers through advocacy networks, focusing on education issues in general, and market-based policies in particular. While policymakers and private funders are demanding evidence on the effectiveness of proposed interventions in education, it is not at all clear that they themselves consider evidence in promoting particular policies. Instead, as is apparent with policy proposals for market-based reforms, quite often it is not rigorous research that advances policies, but effective advocacy. Indeed, evidence indicates that an infrastructure of rapid production and dissemination of data has emerged through advocacy organizations and networks, often to obscure or produce alternative evidence. While critical theorists have noted for some time the expansion of neoliberal reform models in education, those analyses offer little in terms of understanding the mechanisms behind the expansion and proliferation of such policies, much less effective ways to challenge their growth. The paper highlights limitations of one of the most popular theoretical perspectives for understanding such networks, and notes how, in the marketplace of ideas represented by new policy advocacy networks, critical scholars are poor at packaging their message, especially compared to intermediary organizations. The paper concludes by introducing a framework of economic transaction for understanding policy transfer. In doing so, it offers a challenge for critical scholars hoping to influence education policymaking.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Symposium Journals Ltd
Copyright: © 2018 by SAGE Publications
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