Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Nordtveit, B.H.
Knowledge production in a constructed field: reflections on comparative and international education
(2015) Asia Pacific Education Review, 11 p. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1007/s12564-015-9354-0

Adopting Maria Manzon’s theoretical framework, which draws on Foucault and proposes that comparative education as an academic field is socially constructed, I suggest that the field is neither stable nor well defined. To demonstrate this, I conduct a content analysis of the Comparative Education Review, using Klaus Krippendorff’s methodological framework to study comparative and international education (CIE) researchers’ understanding of the national—and of their related knowledge production in the field. Many comparativists express interests in multiple countries, and their knowledge production takes the form of individual country studies. The countries are habitually studied using a “problem approach” focusing on one specific aspect of the country under investigation and using an associated social science methodology deemed appropriate. Few comparativists are making explicit use of or reference to any methodology that is unique to comparative education. Efforts to catalog and systematize CIE research have demonstrated that the field is becoming so inclusive that it hardly is distinguishable from educational studies as a whole. Hence, I suggest that instead of speaking about unifyingfeatures of the field, it may be more relevant to speak about frequent elements, such as a focus on the national, and a knowledge production characterized by the academic practitioner who desires to improve the education systems studied. A third frequent element may be the focus on educational development, thus justifying the label of “comparative, international, and development education.” One challenge of the field is its dependence on Western social science discourses, which may be marginalizing other voices.

Author Keywords

Comparative education; Comparative Education Review; Content analysis; Development; International education; Knowledge production

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