Conceptualising education policy as practice

Year: 2010

Author: Heimans, Stephen

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper makes an argument concerning the usefulness of a conception of policy as practice for theorizing and understanding all aspects of the education policy cycle. In contrast, education policy, while usually being thought of as produced in government, is most often seen to be implemented in practice in education institutions. This paper drawing on contemporary theorising of practice, especially but not exclusively Bourdieu’s work on practice and its relationships with habitus, capital and field, argues for a perspective on policy as informed by and as practice and applies it across all elements of the policy cycle, that is agenda setting, text production and implementation. It is argued that a practice perspective captures well the economies of power, and of policy, and its various contexts. A conception of policy as practice across all of the policy cycle provides analytical resources to account for the dynamic nature of the movement of ideas and their resemiotisation, as they are pulled into and used in, and for, education policy.

Key Phrase: practice; policy cycle; Bourdieu; power