The Nation-States, Sociology, and the Construction of Globalization. Unintended Effects of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in Education Policy.

Year: 2018

Author: Tröhler, Daniel, Fox, Stephanie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

For a short time period around 2000 it seemed that the raison d'être of the nation-states had come to their end. In this context, the sociological “world polity” thesis was promoted according to which there is something like a world society that leads to a global trend in the adaption of formal structures, which tend to be more or less the same in every (developed) nation-state (Meyer & Ramirez, 2000).
The world polity thesis suggests, that schools all over the world are in fact more or less the same. Accordingly, it is suggested that owing to specific “world forces,” that is, some “cultural principles exogenous to any specific nation-state and its historical legacy” (p. 115), the developments of schooling and curricula in the different nation-states “show surprising degrees of homogeneity around the world” (Meyer, 1992, pp. 2f.) and “variance across national societies is less noticeable than most arguments would have had it,” so that we may speak of a “world curriculum” indicating the “relative unimportance of the national, so far as mass curricular outlines go” (pp. 6f.).
The paper argues, that it is no coincidence that the idea of a “world society” steered by a regime called “world polity” has been suggested by sociologists. Sociology depends in its fundaments on the perception of a society, and society has been, from its very outset, a national construction, restricted to the respective nation-states and distinct from the “societies” of other nation-states. Thus, in presumed post-national times, sociologists, realizing the eclipse of their object—society—move to the next clustered “social” entity, the global “world society.” What has been “true” in the nation-states—national society, education, policy, and politics—now applies to the whole world: world society, world curriculum, and world polity.
The general thesis of this paper is neo-institutionalism in fact less analyzes phenomena connected to globalization, rather than constructs intellectually globalization by constructing a teleological history. The more precise thesis of this paper is that by providing a sociologically informed teleological history of globalization, the “world culture” thesis actually paves the way to culturally indifferent large-scale assessments such as PISA and promotes thereby their medicalized epistemologies to govern the school and education policy, trying to transform the school to learning laboratories exposed to intervention studies initiated, interpreted and monitored by cognitive psychologists, to convert children to students and to de-professionalize teachers to learning coaches.