A conceptual framework for analysis of education policy and practices

Year: 2001

Author: Vidovich, Lesley

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In education policy research over the last decade, there has been increased interest in moving the focus from macro level policy intentions by central authorities to micro level policy practices/consequences within individual institutions. Research focusing on micro political processes turns attention to practitioners as relatively free agents, actively interpreting, negotiating, and often resisting policy from central authorities. However, this micro focus has not gone uncontested in the literature. An opposing view argues for assigning a stronger role to the state in understanding policy processes because central authorities wield sufficient power to force compliance with their policy intentions, such that practitioners are constrained as passive recipients rather than active constructors of policy.

The framework offered here for policy analysis draws from both 'macro constraint' (including global, national and state policy agendas) and 'micro agency' of individual participants to track policy processes through different 'moments' in the policy cycle. Three different contexts - influence, policy text production and practice - are the key components of the policy cycle, with the addition of contexts of outcomes and political strategies to address issues of social inequalities. In subsequent papers in this symposium, the policy framework outlined in this paper will be applied to specific case studies of policy production and practice in schools.