Media visibility and the political use of global rankings have highlighted the topicality and relevance of comparative studies in education. This importance has not entailed the development of theoretical instruments in the field, however. Contemporary research is criticised, e.g. for a lack a historical perspective and contextualisation (Kazamias 2009; Steiner-Khamsi 2009), for too optimistic a view about transfer (Cowen 2000), and for suffering ‘unbearable narrowness of the national view’ (Dale 2009a, 2009b; Kettunen 2008; Strange 1997). An eminent comparativist of education, Cowen (2009, 963), crystallised the situation when stating that comparisons are too often just like train spotting: ‘collecting train numbers: interesting only if you are already hooked on the hobby’. There is a risk that comparison will become only a tool for identifying differences and similarities, and hence will eventually become trivial. To sum up, comparative education is suffering from serious methodological deficits and under-theorisation, while at the same time having bigger political and media weight than ever (Nóvoa and Yariv-Mashal 2003; Simola 2009; Simola and Rinne 2011; Simola, Varjo, and Rinne 2011a, 2011b).