Evidence-Based Policy and the Education Privatization Debate: Analysing the Politics of Knowledge Production and Mobilization through Bibliographic Coupling
International Journal of Educational Development, Forthcoming
30 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2017
Date Written: January 13, 2017
Education privatization is one of the most polarized areas in education policy research internationally. A swath of highly contradictory empirical research surrounds the issue of private involvement in education provision on a variety of related-themes (voucher schemes, charter schools, freedom of school choice, school competition etc.). Yet, the fact that research on these themes is far from conclusive makes taking evidence-based policy decisions challenging, and generates opportunities for a range of intermediary organizations to promote their preferred policy alternatives in this particular area. Based on the application of bibliometric analysis techniques, this paper examines the intersection of evidence production, research brokering, and knowledge mobilization in education policy and, in particular, in the context of the education privatization debate. Our analysis focuses on a group of international agencies, namely the World Bank, the consultancy firm CfBT (now called Education Development Trust), the UK’s Department for International Education (DfID) that are internationally recognized for their role as knowledge brokers between the research community and policy-makers operating at a range of scales.
The paper first maps the epistemic configuration of the education privatization debate and follows by exploring how the knowledge products of the above-mentioned intermediary organisations fit within and engage with the different epistemic communities generated around such debate. Among other things, our research shows that intermediary organizations’ publications on education privatization tend to cite a limited (and usually non peer-reviewed) number of like-minded studies as a way to create an illusion of a general consensus around the advantages of quasi-markets and freechoice policies in education.
Keywords: Educational Developement
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