Education

Publications relating to education.

Walk the Line: How Institutional Influences Constrain Elites.

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Abstract. Private foundations in the United States (US) are powerful actors in contemporary society. Their influence stems in part from their lack of accountability – they operate free from market pressures or finding sources of funding, and they are not subject to formal democratic systems of checks and balances such as elections or mandatory community oversight. In recent decades, foundations have become increasingly influential in shaping public policy governing core social services. In US education policy, for example, the influence of private foundations has reached an unprecedented scope and scale. Although economic and electoral accountability mechanisms are absent, foundations are aware that their elite status is rooted in a wider acceptance of their image as promoters of the public good. They are incentivized to maintain their role as “white hat” actors and, in balancing their policy goals with the desire to avoid social sanctions, the ways in which they exert influence are shaped and limited by institutional processes. Drawing on rare elite interview data and archival analyses from five leading education funders, we observe that foundations seek to sustain their credibility by complying with legal regulations and by drawing on cultural norms of participation and science to legitimize their policy activities.

Keywords: foundations, K-12 educational policy, elites, organizational theory, institutions

The Rise of Individual Agency in Conceptions of Society: Textbooks Worldwide, 1950-2011.

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Abstract
A broadly recognized sociological insight is that rising levels of individualism increasingly characterize a growing number of countries. We examine the extent to which schooling is altered by, and transmits, this core cultural shift. We analyze 476 secondary school social science textbooks from 78 countries from 1950 to 2011 to see whether they increasingly portray society as made up of agentic individual actors of all sorts (e.g., children, women, minorities). We find emphases on older social institutions remain stable, but there are striking worldwide increases in emphases on people, especially ones empowered with rights. This global peopling of social science instruction, especially strong in the recent neoliberal decades, characterizes every type of country and textbook we can distinguish, and occurs over and above other features of books and countries.

A Tale of Two Worlds: The Inter-State System and World Society in Social Science Textbooks, 1950-2010

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Abstract
There is a great and longstanding divide in visions of the international arena. Some assert thatstates are the most relevant actors in international politics, and others emphasize the importance of non-state actors as vehicles through which shared ideas and identities are enacted. Typically, cross-national scholarship adopts one of these positions and seeks to support the attendant theoretical claims; our approach is entirely different. We treat these varied conceptions of the international arena not as antecedent explanatory frameworks, but rather as outcomes to be explained in their own right. To this end, we draw on data consisting of 539 high-school social science textbooks (history, civics, social studies, and geography) from 73 countries published between 1950 and 2011, coded to shed light on how the international arena is discussed innational education systems. We use multilevel modeling to determine how characteristics of textbooks and countries are linked to different visions of the international arena. Stronger national emphases in books promote a vision of the interstate system, as does a country’s level of democracy. Emphases on world society emerge particularly in recent decades and in books and countries most exposed to educational and social globalization. Our findings provide initial support for arguments that world society and the interstate system are distinct, leading to multiple forms of inequality in the international arena.

Empowered Individualism in World Culture: Agency and Equality in Canadian Textbooks, 1871-2006.

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Abstract: The sacred status of individuals is a central pillar of world culture in research on education and beyond. The intended socialization of students is increasingly to become empowered individuals that respect human equality and diversity in a globally-interconnected world. At the same time, we have little understanding of what exactly the concept of individual empowerment means or how to capture it empirically. This study builds on prior observations about the growing status of individuals by delineating the rise of two separate but related dimensions of empowerment – agency and equality – and outlining the rise of these dimensions in the Canadian educational context. To this end, it draws on a unique dataset consisting of a systematically designed coding of eighty history, civics, and social studies textbooks used in Canada from 1871 to 2006. Refining the concept of individual empowerment reveals that its manifestations are shaped by the local context, in addition to the influences that come from world culture. Overall, increasingly empowered individuals and the structures they create (often organizations and associations of various types) become key actors in national and international society. Looking to the future, if taken to an extreme, expansions in individual empowerment may lead to instances of “hyper-empowerment”, where depictions and enactments of individual choice, control, and equality far outpace reasonable expectations.

Managed Morality: The Rise of Codes of Conduct in the US Nonprofit Sector.

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Abstract
Calls for accountability in the nonprofit sector have never been stronger, and the rise of various forms of self-regulation represents a profound shift for nonprofits. Existing studies tend to focus on effective design and implementation of accountability policies, with an eye toward improving nonprofit efficiency and reducing instances of misconduct. Against this backdrop, we draw on sociological institutionalism to theorize an alternative view of one form of self-regulation, formal codes of conduct or ethical codes. In this view, formal policies, such as codes, are assumed to be adopted as a response to pressures in an organization’s institutional environment, beyond their purported instrumental value. Using a quantitative analysis of code adoption by 24 of 45 state nonprofit associations over the period 1994 to 2011, we provide evidence that codes arise due to general environmental conditions, particularly related to the influences of neoliberalism and professionalization, net of the functional demands of any particular context.

Policy and Administration as Culture: Organizational Sociology and Cross-National Education Trends.

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The study of public policy and administration, including research on education, has long been dominated by assumptions rooted in the disciplines of politics and management. Politicallyoriented research focuses on causal processes driven by power and self-interest, looking at sources of inequality and hegemony. Research using a management lens emphasizes economic notions of robust individual capacity for strategic and self-interested action, focusing on function and efficiency. Although some phenomena are well-described by these views, they overlook important elements of global educational administration and policy that are best understood through a cultural lens. Core features of contemporary policy and administration, such as privatization and the rise of network forms of governance, are not fully explained by ideas of power or function. Using examples from education, I show that a cultural explanatory framework, drawn from recent developments in organizational sociology, can provide additional insights into the most pressing global administrative and policy issues.

Legitimacy and the Contingent Diffusion of World Culture: Diversity and Human Rights in Social Science Textbooks, Divergent Cross-National Patterns (1970-2008)

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Over the twentieth century the celebration of both human rights and the rights of minorities have become central features of an emerging world culture. Although related in some respects, ideas of human and minority rights differ in their fundamental conception of society as made of either heterogeneous social
groups or universally equivalent individuals. I posit that the contradiction between universality and diversity in world culture leads to divergent patterns of diffusion into nation-states and provide evidence of this trend. The data consist of 523 high school social science textbooks from 74 countries published
between 1970 and 2008 coded for content relevant to human and minority rights. Using multilevel modeling, I find that increases in minority rights discussions occur mainly in stable democracies, in contrast to a worldwide rise in discussions of human rights. These findings contribute to studies of globalization, education, and minority and human rights by documenting the spread of global models of citizenship into national education systems and identifying limits to the diffusion of global principles.

Read the article here:

https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/cjs/index.php/cjs/article/view/17001