chapter  7
Towards a theory of enactment: ‘The value of hesitation and closer interrogation of utterances of conventional wisdom’
Pages 14

In this final chapter, we draw together our responses to the theoretical and empirical question of how schools do policy. While all books come out of proposals and scripted plans for their construction, in the process of doing the writing, the thinking and the analytical work, minds are changed, new directions become evident, different pathways open up while others close down – a somewhat unsettling process. This is even more the case in inductive qualitative research of the kind we are committed to and on which the research we report here is based. Writing is part of the process of analysis – defining codes, explaining their dimensions, applying concepts and developing interpretative memos. In the process of making decisions about what to include, what to exclude, what approach to take and even how to construct the chapters, we have found ourselves confronted in our data with themes and issues that now seem to be more important than they originally looked to be. Equally, we have set aside some ideas that no longer seem as compelling as they once did. In parallel to all of this, we have explored a number of theoretical possibilities in relation to our data. Now we must attempt to convince you that all of this is greater than the sum of the parts, that it hangs together, that it is a plausible whole that deserves to be taken seriously. We start by revisiting some of the theoretical resources that have helped us unpack ‘the how and the what’ of policy enactment and, here, somewhat unexpectedly, but perhaps not that surprisingly, the work of Foucault provided us with provocations to think differently about policy work. We will also move, carefully, slowly, towards a very tentative synthesis or model of enactment – an elusive and slippery process: ‘For to see what is in front of our eyes requires thinking and thinking about thinking in different ways’ (Thrift 2000: 216, cited in Kraftl 2007: 125). This modelling necessarily involves us in specifying the limits of our analysis and identifying some ways in which our work on policy enactment in schools can be taken forward.