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
ByKalervo N. Gulson, Matthew Clarke, Eva Bendix Petersen

part 1|71 pages


chapter 1|12 pages

Bourdieu and doing policy sociology in education

ByShaun Rawolle, Bob Lingard

chapter 3|12 pages

Repeating Deleuze and Guattari

Towards a politics of method in education policy studies
BySam Sellar

chapter 4|12 pages


The ‘impossibility’ of deconstructing educational policy enactment
ByGreg Vass

chapter 5|10 pages

Education policies as discursive formations

A Foucauldian optic
ByEva Bendix Petersen

chapter 6|12 pages

Lacanian perspectives on education policy analysis

ByMatthew Clarke

part 2|144 pages

Concepts and theories

chapter 7|12 pages

Situated, relational and practice-oriented

The actor-network theory approach
ByRadhika Gorur

chapter 8|11 pages

Thinking educational policy and management through (frictional) concepts of affects

ByDorthe Staunæs, Justine Grønbæk Pors

chapter 9|12 pages

Assemblage theory and education policy sociology

ByDeborah Youdell

chapter 10|12 pages

Counterpublics, crisis and critique

A feminist socio-historical approach to researching policy
ByJessica Gerrard

chapter 11|13 pages

Embodying policy studies

Feminist genealogy as methodology
ByWanda S. Pillow

chapter 12|13 pages


Foucault's concept for our modern political reasoning
ByKaspar Villadsen

chapter 13|11 pages

Taking a ‘material turn’ in education policy research?

ByStephen Heimans

chapter 14|12 pages

Mobilities paradigm and policy research in education

ByFazal Rizvi

chapter 15|12 pages

A narrative approach to policy analysis

ByPeter Bansel

chapter 16|13 pages

Queer theory, policy and education

ByMary Lou Rasmussen, Christina Gowlett

chapter 17|11 pages

Thinking rhizomatically

Using Deleuze in education policy contexts
ByEileen Honan

chapter 18|11 pages

Relational space and education policy analysis

ByKalervo N. Gulson