chapter  5
12 Pages

Big policies/small world: an introduction to international perspectives in education policy

One of the tensions which runs through all varieties of policy analysis is that between the need to attend to the local particularities of policy-making and policyenactment and the need to be aware of general patterns and apparent commonalities or convergences across localities (see Whitty and Edwards, 1998). That tension is central to this paper and my primary emphasis is upon the general and common elements in contemporary, international education policy but I will also address the processes of translation and recontextualisation involved in the realisation or enactment of policy in specific national and local settings. However, one immediate limitation upon the generality of my discussion is its focus upon western and northern, developed economies; although a great deal of what I have to say has considerable relevance to countries like Colombia, Chile, Portugal, Japan and some of the ex-Warsaw Pact nations of eastern Europe. The paper has three main sections. The first sketches in a set of generic ‘problems’ which constitute the contemporary social, political and economic conditions for education and social policy-making. The second discusses the idea of ideological and ‘magical’ solutions to these problems and the dissemination of these solutions. The third and last returns to the issue of recontextualisation.