Rescaling and Reconstituting Education Policy: the knowledge economy and the scalar politics of global fields

Bob Lingard, Shaun Rawolle

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


    Globalization has seen a new scalar politics emerge (Brenner, 2004, Robertson et al., 2006), reconstituting relations between nations and international organizations and provoking the emergence of a range of global fields. Bourdieu (2003), for example, speaks of a global economic field which has resulted from politics played by certain individuals, groups, businesses and organizations and a related performative construction of globalization read only as neo-liberal market capitalism on a global scale in the post Cold war era. We suggest, drawing on Bourdieu (2003), that one way that such differences may be understood is through the amount of 'national capital' possessed by a given nation, which will be a significant factor in the nature and extent of such mediation. In this chapter we take what Held and McGrew (2002) call a 'transformationalist' view of globalization, in that we recognize that politics and processes beyond the nation have seen a reframing of both the state and policy processes within the nation. This chapter deals with two empirical cases of policy production, set against these new scalar politics and as exemplars of them. We draw upon these empirical cases rather than outline the data. The first empirical case deals with knowledge economy policy, an idea which is an exemplary example of a globalized policy discourse (Taylor et al., 1997) and which the OECD was central to proselytizing through an influential 1996 document on the topic. This part of the chapter documents and analyses how knowledge economy policy came to be rearticulated in Australia and as such considers national mediation of the Australian knowledge economy policy, The Chance to Change (Batterham, 2000). This analysis also demonstrates not only specific national mediation of a globalized policy discourse, the interplay between global and national educational policy fields, but also mediatization of the policy process in the sense of the role of the field of journin its production (Fairclough, 2000) and cross-field effects (Rawolle, 2005). The second case deals with what we call an emergent global education policy field (Lingard, Rawolle and Taylor, 2005). Here we document the significance of a global articulation of policy as numbers (Rose, 1999) and comparison as new form of governance (Novoa and Yariv-Mashal, 2003) and the ways in which these two help constitute the global education policy field through the creation of a global space of equivalence, a commensurate space of measurement (Porter, 1995, Desrosieres, 1998). The analysis in both cases uses the work of Bourdieu, which we have argued is useful to education policy analysis (Lingard, Taylor and Rawolle, 2005, Lingard and Rawolle, 2008), as has van Zanten (2005). The cases are essentially about understanding the new scalar politics of education policy production and the emergent global education policy field and how it works through cross-field effects in the national field. In this sense, the macro level concern of the chapter is with the rescaling and reconstitution of the production rules for education policy in the context of globalization. A second level concern is to demonstrate the usefulness of Bourdieu to understanding these new scalar politics in education policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRe-reading Education Policies
    Subtitle of host publicationa Handbook studying the policy agenda of the twenty-first century
    EditorsM Olsen M Simmons, M Peters M Peters
    Place of PublicationRotterdam
    PublisherSense Publishers
    Number of pages15
    ISBN (Print)9789087908300
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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