This book aims to posit theory as a central component to the study of education and education policy. Providing clear, introductory entries into contemporary critical theories and their take up in education policy studies, the book offers a generative invitation to further reading, thought and exploration. Instead of prescribing how theory should be used, the contributors elaborate on a set of possibilities for researching and critiquing education policy.

Education Policy and Contemporary Theory explores examples of how theoretical approaches generate a variety of questions for policy analysis, demonstrating the importance of theory as a necessary and inevitable resource for exploring and contesting various policy realms and dominant discourses. Each chapter provides a short overview of key aspects of a particular theory or perspective, followed by suggestions of methodological implications and recommended readings to extend the outlined ideas. Organized around two parts, the first section focuses on theorists while the second section looks at specific theories and concepts, with the intention that each part makes explicit the connection between theory and methodology in relation to education policy research.

Each contribution is carefully written by established and emerging scholars in the field to introduce new scholars to theoretical concepts and policy questions, and to inspire, extend or challenge established policy researchers who may be considering working in new areas.

chapter |12 pages


Theory, policy, methodology

part 1|71 pages


chapter 3|12 pages

Repeating Deleuze and Guattari

Towards a politics of method in education policy studies

chapter 4|12 pages


The ‘impossibility’ of deconstructing educational policy enactment

chapter 5|10 pages

Education policies as discursive formations

A Foucauldian optic

part 2|144 pages

Concepts and theories

chapter 7|12 pages

Situated, relational and practice-oriented

The actor-network theory approach

chapter 10|12 pages

Counterpublics, crisis and critique

A feminist socio-historical approach to researching policy

chapter 11|13 pages

Embodying policy studies

Feminist genealogy as methodology

chapter 12|13 pages


Foucault's concept for our modern political reasoning

chapter 17|11 pages

Thinking rhizomatically

Using Deleuze in education policy contexts