Policy sociology and critical social research: a personal review of recent education policy and policy research
If our task is understanding both how domination works and the possibilities of interrupting it, then one of the things we can do is learn from each other, to combine our critical efforts.
(M. Apple (2003) The State and the Politics of Knowledge, New York, RoutledgeFalmer, p. 24)
Introduction This paper expounds a personal and perhaps idiosyncratic view of education policy and education policy research in the UK during the past 15-20 years. The first part of the paper is concerned with the former and I discuss the transformation of public sector provision and civil society and the introduction of new forms of social regulation. The second part considers the latter and involves reflection on ‘progress’ in an emergent sub-field of educational studies – education policy research.1 I am not using hard and fast boundaries or definitions of the field in my discussion which may introduce some imprecision and vagueness but that is probably inevitable. I will explore my concerns using a meta-analytical template and I will range across theoretical, epistemological and methodological issues.