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Education, Globalisation and the Role of Comparative Research Draft Article for London Review of Education Andy Green

Andy Green is professor of comparative education at the Institute of Education, London, and codirector of the DFES Research entre on the !ider "enefits of Learnin#$ %is &oo's include(

Education, Globalisation and the Nation State )*++,- and High Skills: Globalization, Competitiveness and Skills Formation ).//*- )with 0$ "rown and %$ Lauder-$

Abstract. Comparative education has traditionally meant the study o national education systems! "ut ho# ar is this approach valid today$ %oesn&t the 'decline& o the nation state make national systems obsolete$ (sn&t the very idea o a 'system& anachronistic in a #orld o market triumphalism and global disorganization$ )he purpose o this article is to e*plore ho# globalisation is changing education and the implication o this or comparative study! +hy study education systems and #hy study national education systems in particular$ +hat else should comparativists study, and ho#$ +hat de ines the ield o comparative education$ )hese ,uestions are approached irst historically and secondly methodologically!

Introduction omparative education has traditionally meant the study of national education systems$ 1he field first developed in the early nineteenth century in parallel with the rise of national education, and it too' the national system as its main o&2ect of en3uiry )4oah and Epstein, *+5+-$ 1he twentieth century comparativists who consolidated it as an academic su&2ect,

includin# 6ichael Sadler, Isaac 7andel and 4icholas %ans, continued to focus on the classification and e8planation of characteristics of different national systems$ "ut how far is this approach valid today9 Doesn:t the ;decline: of the nation state ma'e national systems o&solete9 And isn:t the very idea of a ;system: anachronistic in a world of mar'et triumphalism and #lo&al disor#ani<ation9 As 0eter =arvis as's in a recent edition of Comparative Education( !hy should we underta'e comparative analysis at all in this Glo&al >illa#e9)=arvis, .///-$

1hese are tou#h 3uestions for comparative educationalists &ecause the concept of the national education system forms the 'eystone of the whole mental architecture of comparative education$ It may &e hard to thin' comparative without it$ 4evertheless, the 3uestion has &een ri#htly posed and needs answerin#$ 1he purpose of my lecture is to e8plore how #lo&alisation is chan#in# education and the implication of this for comparative study$ !hy study education systems and why study national education systems in particular9 !hat else should comparativists study, and how9 !hat defines the field of comparative education9 I approach these 3uestions first historically and secondly methodolo#ically$

The Parallel Rise of Comparative Education and National Education ystems.

!ritin# a&out education in forei#n countries has a lon# history, #oin# &ac' in fact to Anti3uity$ ?enephon descri&ed the trainin# of 0ersian youth for aims and structures of 0ersian and Gree' education@ =ulius iti<enship, comparin# the

aesar, in his De "ello Gallico

)&oo' vi-, commented on the educational aims and procedures of the Druids and attempted some #eneral e8planations@ and 6arco 0olo wrote a&out education in hina$ In the early

modern era, well-travelled literati from Europe fre3uently wrote a&out their o&servations of

education in other European countries and even in Asia, 2ust as Asian writers commented on their e8periences in Europe For the most part these were unsystematic travellers: tales, what 4oah and Ec'stein refer to as a superior 'ind of 2ournalism )4oah and Ec'stein, *+5+-$

1his tradition continued in the nineteenth century with the reports on forei#n education &y Europeans such as >ictor ousin, =ames 7ay-Shuttleworth and 6atthew Arnold, and &y

American educationalists such as %orace 6ann, Arville 1aylor and =ohn Griscom$ In a sense these were still traveller:s tales &ut they had ta'en on a new form$ 1hey were somewhat more systematic at description and classification, althou#h often still hi#hly su&2ective@ they also now played a si#nificant political role, in the sense of &ein# used for policy purposes$ Reports on forei#n education systems were used as an early and wea' form of ;evidence-&ased policy ma'in#:( they sou#ht forei#n e8amples of policies and practises to &orrow, and empirical data on the effects of forei#n policies and practises as evidential support for policies advocated at home$ 1hey were also conscious of the fact that they were studyin# a new educational phenomenon B the national education system$ 6arc-Antoine =ullien, often considered the founder of comparative education, set out in his *C*, te8t, ; Es,uisse et -ues .r/liminaries d&un 0uvrage sur 1&Education Compar/, to provide some systematic comparative classification of education systems, &ased on rudimentary 3uestionnaire surveys$

omparative education, in its nascent form as a ;discipline: or, as some prefer, a ;su&disciplinary field of application: )usually of comparative social science-, &e#an with the notions of national systems &ecause they were the emer#ent contemporary reality B the important thin#s to understand$ 1he national education systems which arose in northern Europe and the northern DSA from the late ei#hteenth century were sui generis@ radically different from the precedin# artisanal and clerical forms of learnin#$ As 6ar#aret Archer

descri&ed them in her classic &oo', )he 0rigins o Education Systems )*+,+-, they were systems of formal schoolin# at least partly funded and supervised &y the state, providin# a putative monopoly of education to all school a#e children in a #iven nation@ and whose different levels &ecame increasin#ly systemically coordinated and inte#rated over time$

1hese systems &e#an with the national networ's of elementary schools that were developed with state financial and le#al assistance into a universal phenomenon$ 0ost-elementary secondary and technical schoolin# su&se3uently e8panded from its tiny elite &ase, to allow a small tric'le of upward mo&ility and #ive credi&ility to the 4apoleonic ma8im of the career open to talents! E8cept in the American 4orth and !est, the secondary schools represented a parallel system separate from the mass elementary school system until considera&ly later, &ut #radually institutions did &ecame more articulated with one another, and systems emer#ed which were increasin#ly re#ulated &y the state$ As pu&lic schools came to predominate over private and voluntary institutions, #overnments increased their control over systems, providin# the ma2ority of funds, licensin# and inspectin# schools and teachers, or#ani<in# teacher trainin# throu#h #rowin# networ's of dedicated 4ormal schools and, in most cases, overseein# national certification and standard school curricula$ 1hese were definitely systems in formation, and they had increasin#ly central functions within society$

1hey were also distinctly national, &oth in the sense of &ein# state-driven and in the sense of meetin# needs defined in national terms$ 4ational education systems developed, as I ar#ued in Education and State Formation )Green, *++/-, as part of the lon# process of state formation that stretched in a #reat arch from the late a&solutist states, throu#h the French Revolution and &eyond to the #radual construction of democratic nation states in the nineteenth century$ 1hrou#h these national education systems states fashioned disciplined

wor'ers and loyal military recruits@ created and cele&rated national lan#ua#es and literatures@ populari<ed national histories and myths of ori#in, disseminated national laws, customs and social mores, and #enerally e8plained the ways of the state to the people and the duties of the people to the state$ 4ational education was a massive en#ine of inte#ration, assimilatin# the local to the national and the particular to the #eneral$ In short, it created, or tried to create, the civic identity and national consciousness which would &ind each to the state and reconcile each to the other, ma'in# actual citi<ens out of those who were deemed such in law &y virtue of their &irth or voluntary adoption$

It is no surprise then that the first comparative educationalists were preoccupied with systems and with nationhood$ 1hey or#ani<ed their classifications of education around national systems@ they collected data at the national level where they could@ and they sou#ht national characteristics to e8plain variations &etween systems$ 1hey rec'oned, ri#htly, that the state was a ma2or force in fashionin# education systems, and therefore analysed national political forms, as well as other national factors such as lan#ua#e, climate and reli#ion, to understand differences &etween systems$

=ullien was the first to try to classify the characteristics of different national systems, focussin# on institutional forms and processes )=ullien, *C*,-$ Emile Levasseur, a French statistician later in the century, made more systematic 3uantitative comparative comparisons usin# data on enrolments )Levasseur, *C+,-$ %e also sou#ht to e8plain variations in country systems with reference to reli#ion, race, climate, and levels of democracy$ %e found, for instance, as the historian arlo ipolla was later to confirm, that protestant northern

European states typically had hi#her enrolments than southern atholic states ) ipolla, *+5+-$ 1here was some occasional interest in within-system differences$ =oseph 7ay, another

educational traveller, noted, li'e =ullien &efore him, that comparison across re#ions within states mi#ht &e fruitful, particularly where there were interestin# sets of variations as &etween cantons in Swit<erland )4oah and Ec'stein, *+5+-$ %owever, it was mainly cross-national study of systems that preoccupied these early comparativists$

1he ma2or comparative scholars of the first half of the twentieth century, from Sadler, down to 7andel and %ans, were e3ually concerned with characteri<in# and e8plainin# national systems, althou#h they did this more ri#orously and with more concern for the comple8ities of causation than their for&ears$ Sadler was famously concerned with the social conte8ts e8ternal to institutions$ %e &elieved, contrary to modern orthodo8ies a&out ;school effects:, that these were more important than internal institutional dynamics to the understandin# of how the education process wor'ed in each country$ 7andel also e8plored the cultural and historical ;forces and factors: &ehind system variation, includin# the roles of State and hurch, and the effects of class, race, and social and economic or#ani<ation$

"oth viewed education throu#h the lens of the nation state$ Accordin# to Sadler( ;All #ood and live education is an e8pression of national life and character$ It is rooted in the history of the nation and fitted to its needs$: )3uoted in 4oah and Ec'stein, p$ F*-$ 7andel, li'ewise, ar#ued in the preface to his ma2or wor', Comparative Education, that his wor' was ;&ased on the point of view that education systems are dominated &y national ends, and that it is the duty of educators and teachers to understand the meanin# of nationalism and all the forces that contri&ute to it: )7andel, *+EE, p$88iv-$ 7andel was a li&eral internationalist and aware that nationalism could ta'e what he called a ;sinister: direction, althou#h #iven that he wrote in the *+E/s he was perhaps less alert to the imminent dan#ers than he mi#ht have &een$ %owever his approach was im&ued with a nation state perspective$ 1here is little discussion

in his wor's of national minorities or intra-state cultural differences$ Althou#h he notes ;that there is considera&le dan#er in employin# such a #enerali<ation as national character: )*+EE, p$.E-, he didn:t, for all his scholarship, entirely escape the trap$

1hese early pioneers treated national cultures and institutions from an historical vanta#e point, stressin# lon#-ran#e patterns and continuities and what institutional economists now call ;path dependency:$ Ar#ua&ly they veered towards a 'ind of national cultural determinism and they were perhaps rather less attuned to historical discontinuities and structural divisions of class and ethnicity than they mi#ht have &een had their scholarship e8tended more to the wor's of the foundin# fathers of sociolo#y$ %owever, when their historical humanist le#acy was superseded in the *+5/s with a more social scientific approach this was, on the one hand, throu#h the new scientism of 4oah and Ec'stein )*+5+- and, on the other, throu#h the pra#matic pro&lem solvin#-approach of "rian %olmes )*+5G-$ 1hese indeed pulled comparative education closer to social science, althou#h somewhat at the e8pense of historical depth, as Andreas 7a<emias has noted ).//*-$ %owever, much of the new comparative education remained narrowly empirical - either positivist or policy-reform oriented - and still adrift from much of the more theoretically nuanced wor' in other comparative social science disciplines$

0erspectives also remained lar#ely national$ 1he national system remained the main unit of comparison, althou#h the focus now was as much on outcomes as causes$ Increasin#ly, as #overnments &ecame more o&sessed with measurin# national performance, and as the IEA and other &odies o&li#ed with ma2or international surveys of achievement, comparative education was drawn into a 'ind of cross-national Alympics - ran'in# education systems in terms of their effectiveness$ ountless mono#raphs from the AE D,

EDEFA0 and other

&odies also focused on the description and classification of national systems$ Apparently, the more internationalised education research &ecame, the more it focused on comparin# national systems$

So what happened in the remainin# decades of the last century to cause us to as' whether education systems may now &e in decline and cross-national analysis o&solete9 1he &rief answer is #lo&alisation$

Globalisation and Education

So how has #lo&alisation impacted on education9 1he answer must &e fundamentally, &ut not in the ways that are often ar#ued$

Glo&alisation itself has not yet su&stantially eroded national control over education$ It is true that supra-national &odies have increasin# influence in some areas$ 1he AE D and !orld "an' have some impact, particularly on wea'er countries, throu#h their relentless #lo&al mar'etin# of favoured educational policies, often &ac'ed &y su&stantial financial clout$ !ithin Europe, the ommission is undou&tedly 'een to e8tend its sphere of influence, not

least in its attempt to support the creation of a European 7nowled#e Economy throu#h Lifelon# Learnin#$ %owever, education still remains officially a matter of national competence, which few 6em&er States are willin# to cede$ 1he fact that the ommission is o&li#ed to advance its a#enda throu#h voluntary rather than re#ulatory means, throu#h the socalled ;Apen 6ethod of oordination:, only underlines the point$

Governments still see' to mana#e their national systems - indeed, in some ways, more actively than &efore with ever proliferatin# tar#ets and audits$ 1hey 'now that education remains one area where they still have some control$ As Ro&ert Reich )*++*- has pointed out, despite the wanin# of the national economy and despite the internationali<ation of most of the factors of production, human s'ills remain relatively immo&ile and national$ Governments increasin#ly see them as state resources to &e deployed in the &attle for competitive advanta#e in the #lo&al mar'et$ 1hey are not a&out to #ive up this prero#ative$ 4or can they entirely i#nore the need for the ori#inal Dur'heimian function of education in transmittin# national cultures and promotin# social cohesion$ 1his may &e more difficult in modern pluralistic societies, where national and #roup identities increasin#ly part company from what is left of the saliency of statehood and citi<enship )Delanty, .///-$ %owever, as the centrifu#al forces of #lo&alisation relentlessly disrupt and fra#ment societies, #overnments simply cannot afford to e8empt education systems from their responsi&ilities for promotin# social cohesion$ 1here are no other pu&lic a#encies left which can do it )Green, *++,-$

4or are education systems all conver#in# on a sin#le model - despite the influence of transnational a#encies and the proliferation of policy &orrowin#$ 4ew #lo&al policy rhetorics li'e lifelon# learnin# - are certainly emer#in#, &ut in practise they are interpreted and applied in 3uite different ways in different places, as my earlier research with Alison !olf and 1om Leney sou#ht to show )Green, !olf and Leney, *+++-$ Education systems in Europe, for instance, vary considera&ly in their de#rees of centrali<ation and mar'et penetration@ their approaches to selection and early speciali<ation in secondary schoolin#, and their dominant forms of upper secondary provision$

%owever, in certain 'ey respects, #lo&alisation does alter the prospects for traditional national education systems$

6ost important, is the impact of #lo&alisation on the demand for s'ills and 3ualifications$ !ith increased #lo&al economic competition, advanced economies can no lon#er compete with low wa#e economies in cost-competitive manufacturin# and retain their livin# standards - hence the rush towards the hi#h value-added sectors which constitute the so-called 'nowled#e economy )"rown, Green and Lauder, .//*-$ 1here has &een much hype a&out the miraculous new virtual or wei#htless economy$ 1he new economy sectors never provided that many 2o&s - the software industry in the DS, for instance, still employs less than a 3uarter of the num&er employed &y General 6otors - and there was never a prospect of it shiftin# everyone into hi#hly s'illed, hi#hly paid wor'$ 4ow, with the &urstin# of the I1 &u&&le, harles Lead&eater:s prescription )*+++- for Livin# on 1hin Air seems rather foolish$ %owever, it is still the case that, on &alance, wor' is &ecomin# more s'ills intensive, and there is increasin# pressure on individuals to #ain hi#her 3ualifications or ris' mar#inali<ation in the 2o& mar'et )Ashton et al, *+++-$ %ence the demand on #overnments to provide more learnin# opportunities intensifies$

%owever, #overnments are cau#ht in a dou&le &ind here$ As #lo&al economic competition escalates demand for learnin#, so it diminishes #overnment capacity to meet that demand$ Glo&al mar'et pressures force #overnments to 'eep control of pu&lic spendin# to avoid uncompetitive ta8 levels which will deter forei#n investors and drive domestic firms and 2o&s a&road$ 1he European Dnion, followin# the same #lo&al mar'et lo#ic, reinforces the point throu#h its notorious ;Growth and Sta&ility 0act: which o&li#es 6em&er States to 'eep their &ud#ets deficits &elow EH of GD0$ 1hese dual effects B of risin# demand for s'ills and

3ualifications and diminished national state capacity to deliver them B create an international mar'et for education increasin#ly attractive to private sector investors$

%i#her education is to date the most internationalised and commercialised of the educational sectors$ As international demand for them rises, so university research and teachin# &ecome internationally traded commodities offerin# potentially rich returns to those institutions which compete &est in the #lo&al mar'et$ Facilitated &y new educational technolo#ies, and ommission, international hi#her

supported &y supra-national &odies such as the European

education teachin# and research have #rown e8ponentially and loo' set to continue to do so$ In most countries, up until now, this has involved mainly welcome additional revenues for pu&lic sector institutions, &ut the potential for private sector involvement is clear( even in *+++ the AE D estimated the value of trade in hi#her education services at IE/ &n$

1he DS private sector has already cashed in on this in a &i# way$ 4ot only are many of the leadin# universities private &usinesses, &ut there has &een a hu#e #rowth in the commercialisation and corporate &randin# of university life, so that most American campuses are festooned with adverti<in# lo#os and their faculties stuffed with corporate chairs$ 4i'e alone have sponsorship deals with more than .// campus athletics departments$ 1he threat to academic independence from the ;#a##in#: deals that often #o with corporate sponsorship of research and entire campuses hardly needs emphasisin#$ 1he ini3uitous ;non-dispara#ement clause: which went with Ree&o':s sponsorship of the Dniversity of !isconsin is well 'nown &ecause students and faculty campai#ned a#ainst it, &ut there must &e many less &latant cases which never come to pu&lic attention )7lein, .//*-$


School education is neither so internationalised nor so open to #lo&al commercial e8ploitation as hi#her education for o&vious reasons$ 1he ma2ority of children will not cross &orders to #o to school and internationalised virtual schoolin# is not an option where child mindin# and sociali<ation remain primary purposes of schoolin# for &oth parents and states$ 4or have the profit opportunities seemed #ood enou#h to date to attract ma2or corporate investment into the delivery of home student learnin#, althou#h this is now #rowin#$ Edu&usinesses such as Edison and 1essaract in the DS have not &een nota&ly successful in runnin# pu&lic schools and school districts &ecause they have found it difficult, not surprisin#ly, to maintain standards and turn a profit at the standard levels of per student fundin# )Fit< and "eers, .//.-$ In "ritain, Education Action Jones have received relatively little private sector investment and only handful of failin# education authorities and schools have &een ta'en over &y for-profit &usinesses$ %owever, the num&er is #rowin#$ 1ower %amlets LEA has recently &een handed over to the tradin# win# of SER A )Re#an, .//.-$

reepin# forms of privatisation are increasin#ly evident, particularly in the En#lish B spea'in# countries$ harter schools, less tied &y re#ulations and standards than the pu&lic

schools, offer &etter opportunities in the DS for profita&le edu&usiness, alon# with te8t&oo' and teachin# aid production, most nota&ly with hannel Ane:s 1> &roadcasts reachin# over C million school students which smu##le in advertisin# with current affairs pro#rammin#$ In the D7 the ma2or form of privatisation to date has come with the commercial contractin# out of services such as school meals and cleanin#, and with the 0rivate Finance Initiative )0FIwhich involves private sector financin# and operatin# of pu&lic service facilitates which are rented &ac' &y the state$ "y 4ovem&er .///, there were ,* such education pro2ects planned worth some K5C/ m and involvin# 5,E schools )Fit< and "eers, .//.-$ "ut there is also


increasin# involvement of private companies li'e 4ord An#lia in mainstream delivery activities such as curriculum development, school inspection and school improvement$

"ritain has &een more active in the privatisation of services than most countries$ 4evertheless, as Fit< and "eers conclude in their recent study, ;the privatisation of pu&lic education Lhas so far moved at #lacial speed: )Fit< and "eers, .//.-$ %owever, one should underestimate the commercial potential and political temptation that may push in this direction$ !hile the European Dnion maintains the Sta&ility 0act:s punitive stance towards pu&lic spendin#, European #overnments will &e tempted to find in#enious ways to plu# pu&lic service #aps with private investment, as the D7 #overnment does with the 0FI which conveniently ta'es pu&lic investment off &alance sheet$ E3ually, at a time of dwindlin# capital investment opportunities, potentially lucrative mar'ets in services are increasin#ly attractive to investors and corporate pressure for the openin# up of these mar'ets persists$ International a#encies are respondin#$ !hile the terms of !1A:s General A#reement on 1rade in Services )GA1S- still remain somewhat am&i#uous in relation pu&licly provided services, there can &e no dou&t that ma2or interests lie &ehind the move to e8tend the international mar'et in education provision$

Increasin# privatisation of education is li'ely, as Geoff !hitty and others )!hitty, .//.@ !hitty, %alpin and 0ower, *++C- have ar#ued, to increase ine3ualities in educational outcomes$ 6ar'ets, and even 3uasi-mar'ets, tend to wor' li'e that$ 1his is not the place to de&ate the evidential &asis for this ar#ument, &ut at least one point needs to &e stressed here in relation to D7 educational politics$ "ritain has a widely ac'nowled#ed history of class division and ine3uality in education$ 1he results of the recent AE D 0ISA study, confirm those of previous IEA and IALS studies, that relative to a ran#e of comparator countries, we

have e8ceptionally wide distri&utions of educational outcomes$ Indeed the international test evidence from 0ISA for *G year olds shows us amon#st the most une3ual countries in the sample of AE D countries, where typically countries with narrower distri&ution have hi#her avera#e scores )AE D, .//*@ Green, .//E forthcomin#-$

1his level of ine3uality may &e detrimental to the economy, producin# a hi#hly polarised la&our mar'et, which ar#ua&ly in turn encoura#es a hi#h s'illsMlow s'ills dualism in competition strate#ies, and lower overall productivity than in many competitor countries )"rown, Green and Lauder, .//*@ rouch, Fine#old and Sa'o, *+++-$ 1here is also #rowin# evidence that it is detrimental to social cohesion$

Recent wor' conducted &y =ohn 0reston, Ricardo Sa&ato and myself for the !ider "enefits of Learnin# entre certainly points in this direction$ Dsin# IALS data on adult literacy scores

across countries to estimate s'ills distri&utions, and standard Gini coefficients on income ine3uality, we have confirmed the findin#s of 4ic'ell and Layard )*++C-, usin# different methods, that there is a stron# correlation &etween s'ills distri&utions and income ine3uality across countries$ 1a'in# this a step further, we have developed a com&ined factor for national level social cohesion )usin# !>S data on a##re#ate levels of trust and other measures of civic cooperation-, and find, a#ain, a stron# correlation cross-nationally &etween s'ills distri&ution and social cohesion$ As Fi#ure Ane shows, e8cludin# 4orway and Germany, there is a stron# and si#nificant correlation of -/$,5G &etween social cohesion and education ine3uality varia&les )see Green, 0reston and Sa&ates ).//E-$

6ore educationally e3ual countries tend also to &e more cohesive on these measures$


these correlations say nothin# a&out the direction of causality, and we would 2ud#e that this

runs &oth ways and involves a ran#e of different factors$ 4evertheless the results are hi#hly su##estive B sufficiently so in fact to prompt AE D and !orld "an' researchers to underta'e similar analyses$ "y applyin# our methods to 0ISA data they achieve similar results and, perhaps surprisin#ly, draw similar conclusions( in terms of national policy( improvin# s'ills distri&ution matters as much as raisin# avera#e levels )Duthilleul and Rit<en, .//.-$

!i"ure #. Relationship bet$een ocial Cohesion and Education Ine%uality

ocial Cohesion Inde&
F E . De * / Swe Fi -* -. -E * *$* *$. *$E *$F *$G *$5 Ge 4e Au D7 Ir "e Swt a 0ol DS 0or 4w

Education Ine%uality

Glo&alisation, then, does not reduce national interests in education, nor the desire of #overnments to serve them$ %owever, what it does do is raise the demand for s'ills and 3ualifications whilst reducin# state capacity to meet them$ 1he most u&i3uitous national response to all this is, in fact, Lifelon# Learnin# - that most #lo&alised and chamelion of educational discourses, which &oth mas's and le#itimates multiple policy chan#es, includin#

privatisation$ As competition and technolo#ical chan#e drive up the employer demand for s'ills, and as individuals increasin#ly compete for career-enhancin# certificates, so #overnments have to find new ways to meet the demand$ Lifelon# learnin# is an in#enious solution, made possi&le in part &y the new learnin# technolo#ies$ "y declarin# learnin# a lifelon# and life wide process - occurrin# everywhere from the school to the home, the wor'place and the community- #overnments are a&le &oth to respond to individual demands for more diverse learnin# opportunities which mesh with their modern lifestyles, and to shift the costs, which they can no lon#er &ear, onto employers, individuals and their families and communities )Green, .///-$

1his, more than any other development, challen#es the notion of the education system$ !e have &een used to thin'in# a&out education in terms of schools and colle#es and other institutions$ In years to come these may well cease to &e the main locus of learnin# activity$ 1o this e8tent the idea of the educational system does &ecome mar#inali<ed$ !e will have to start to thin' more a&out informal learnin#, wor'place learnin#, and learnin# in the community and home )"roadfoot, .///-$

Implications for Comparative Education

So what are the implications of #lo&alisation for omparative Education9 Ane conclusion we could draw is that cross-national comparison is now redundant$ Dlrich "ec' has ta'en this view )"ec', .///-$ Social science, he says, has for too lon# &een the creature of the nation state@ since the foundin# fathers: first treated society and state as co-e8tensive, the state has operated as a 'ind container of all concepts and data$ 4ow in an a#e of #lo&alisation, says


"ec', a nationally &ased sociolo#y is &ecomin# o&solete $ 1he messa#e is clear( social science should a&andon the methodolo#ical nationalism of its intellectual past rather as 6ar8 claimed to caste off his erstwhile philosophical conscience in a&andonin# %e#el$ 1he new mission should &e to analyse world society and transnational space$

1his is a tall order for comparative education$ Li'e social science in #eneral, and indeed pro&a&ly more so, comparative education as a field has its ori#ins in national thin'in#$ From =ullien, Levasseur and Sadler, throu#h to 7andel, %ans, 6allinson and 7in#, comparative education has ta'en the national system as its main o&2ect of en3uiry and national character as its main e8planandum$ 1his e8clusively national way of thin'in# is now surely outdated$ E8plainin# educational structures and outcomes in terms of national character and culture was always a somewhat essentialist e8ercise, in dan#er of reifyin# national culture as some irreduci&le and homo#enous property$ 4ow, with #rowin# social diversity, the #localisation of culture and the creation of transnational cultural spaces, this approach will surely not do$ omparativists should cease ta'in# national states as the only - or even main units for comparison$

1here is certainly a case for more studies of education and learnin# across su&-national re#ions and communities - li'e the so-called home international studies in the D7 conducted &y David Raffe and collea#ues )Raffe, *+++- or 7aren Evans: multi-layered comparisons of youth learnin# and transitions in matched cities in Germany and the D7 )Evans and %ein<, *++F-$ 6uch more comparative wor' could &e done in this area$ In "el#ium for instance, the lan#ua#e #roup forms the main &asis for educational administration, and so a natural unit for comparin# the com&ined effects of different structures and cultures


on outcomes$ Li'ewise Swit<erland, with its French-spea'in# and German-spea'in# re#ions with different educational structures and cultures, provides an ideal la&oratory for comparative wor'$

1here is also room for more studies across supra-national re#ions$ 1he wor' of David Ashton and collea#ues on European and East Asian s'ills formation systems )Ashton and Green, *++5@ Ashton et al *+++- opens up the possi&ility of e8plicitly cross-re#ional analyses of s'ills formation, drawin# on the now &ur#eonin# re#ional studies of political economy )e# Al&ert, *++E@ "er#er and Dore, *++5@ Dore, .///@ %ampden-1urner and 1rompenaars, *++E@ %utton, *++G@ Streec', *++,@ 1hurow, *++E-$ 1he %i#h S'ills 0ro2ect )"rown, Green and Lauder, .//*- set out to analyse national routes to the hi#h s'ills economy,: &ut li'e the earlier studies &y Ashton et al )op cit- and rouch et al )*+++- found as much potential for

comparison of re#ional and sectoral differences$ Ane can now ima#ine many more am&itious studies that would ta'e the supra-national re#ion as the predominant unit$ 1here is su&stantial evidence, after all, that education and s'ills formation systems do tend to cluster alon# re#ional lines )Green, !olf and Leney, *+++-$ If this is the case, comparativists could learn a #reat deal a&out how conte8ts shape educational chan#e &y studyin# how far pan-re#ional characteristics, net of the policy diffusion effects &etween the countries within them, do in fact e8plain cross-re#ional variations in systems characteristics$

Lastly, the salience of international cross-sectoral comparison also su##ests another important point re#ardin# units of comparison$ So lon# as the units &ein# compared have societal characteristics - )ie in terms of characteristic institutional structures and rules- - there is no reason for limitin# comparison to territorially defined units$ Diasporic lan#ua#e #roups,


distri&uted communities and virtual communities, are all - in theory at least - amena&le to comparative educational research$

1his evident potential for comparison at different non-national levels does not mean, however, that "ec' is correct to ar#ue that cross-national study is o&solete$ School systems, unli'e some hi#her education systems, are still very national institutions$ 1heir structures and processes are shaped primarily &y national le#islation and the national institutional and cultural conte8ts in which they operate$ 1o understand the structural )ie institutional and cultural- factors that determine their forms and outcomes may often re3uire that we compare across countries - especially where there is too little system variation within countries to allow within-country comparison )4oah and Ec'stein, *+5+-$

4ations are still the preferred units for comparative social science for #ood reasons$ 6any of the data are still collected at national level$ 6any of the operative societal varia&les are measured as national level a##re#ates &ecause they pro8y for structures and institutions la&our mar'ets, industry structures, political systems, cultural traits - which are still essentially national$ ountries do still vary re#ularly and su&stantially on a whole ran#e of

demo#raphic, economic and cultural indicators$ As Ronald In#lehart tersely concludes from his e8haustive study of data for .G countries in the !orld >alues Survey )*++/- 1he peoples of different societies are characteri<ed &y endurin# differences in &asic attitudes, values and s'ills( In other words they have different cultures$ )*++/, p$E- 1hese cultures are not monolithic and nor are they immuta&le$ %owever, in #iven times and places they act as important determinants of social and political &ehaviour which cannot &e left out of account$


1he country level, therefore, remains important for comparative analysis - &ut it is only one of a num&er of levels at which comparison can &e effectively used$ 1he 3uestion of units of comparison should not in any case &e decided a priori, &ut rather accordin# to research criteria$ As 4eil Smelser has ar#ued, the main criteria for choosin# the unit of comparison should &e that it is( *- appropriate to the theoretical pro&lem@ .- causally related to the phenomenon &ein# studied@ E- that there are data availa&le at this level )Smelser, *+,5-$ 1his allows for comparison at various different levels, includin# multiple levels$ 1he difficulty is to ma'e sure that where the level of o&servation differs from the level of e8planation that false e8trapolations are not made from the evidence at one level to 2ustify e8planations at a different level B thus fallin# into the trap which economists call the ;ecolo#ical fallacy: )Smelser, *+,5-$

1he main methodolo#ical challen#e for comparative educationalists is not, in any case, a&out levels of analysis@ it is a&out the nature of comparative analysis per se and whether to do it at all$ 0eter =arvis: 3uestion ( !hy should we underta'e comparative analysis at all in this Glo&al >illa#e9)=arvis, .///- may &e not so hard to answer, however$ * Glo&a&li<ation, as ar#ued a&ove, is not so far removin# difference from the world as to ma'e comparison and contrast impossi&le$ So lon# as there are still contrastin# societal units to compare, comparison is still possi&le$ Glo&alisation may alter the spacial dimensions of what we ta'e

See also( R$ Dale, ).//- ;Glo&alisation and Education( Demonstratin# a ; ommon !orld

Educational ulture:: or Locatin# a ;Glo&ally Structured Educational A#enda9: Educational 1heory, G/ )F- pp$ F.,-FFC@ 6$ arnoy and D$ Rhoten$ ).//.- !hat does #lo&alisation mean for educational chan#e( A comparative approach, Comparative Education 2evie# , Fe&ruary$


to &e a meanin#ful societal unit, &ut even "ec' would not ar#ue that society has ceased to e8ist, or that world society is irreduci&le$

1he harder 3uestion to answer is what is comparative analysis9 It can &e ar#ued that all social science is essentially comparative$ Dur'heim famously wrote that comparative sociolo#y is not a particular &ranch of sociolo#y, it is sociolo#y itself, in so far as it ceases to &e purely descriptive and aspires to account for the facts )Smelser, *+,5, p$.-$ "ut for Dur'heim accountin# for the facts meant understandin# the pattern of relationships &etween collectivities - or what he terms social facts - since this is what distin#uishes sociolo#y from other disciplines such as psycholo#y$ 1he study, statistical or otherwise, of variations in individual traits and &ehaviours is therefore, ri#htly in my view, not #enerally considered to &e comparative study, althou#h it may share certain o&2ectives with it, as Smelser ar#ues )*+,5-$ 1he difference, as harles Ra#in lucidly ar#ues, is meta-theoretical( comparativists

&elieve that societies are ;real: phenomena@ methodolo#ical individualists &elieve they are simply statistical a&stractions )Ra#in, *+C*-$

ollectivities, or societies, are, as Dur'heim conceded, made up of individuals and their actions@ &ut they represent more than the sum of those$ 1he patterns of variation &etween collective or societal properties and &ehaviours, and the determinin# relationships &etween them, cannot &e e8plained &y the mere a##re#ation of individual characteristics and actions$ 1his re3uires analysis of the effects of structures and characteristics which are inte#ral to the collectivity or society itself, and which have meanin# only at that level$ 6any societal characteristics cannot &e considered, for instance, in individual level statistical analysis, either &ecause they only show up as constants and cannot therefore &e used to e8plain variation, or &ecause they are meanin#less at that level$ Distri&utional properties, for instance, such as

income or s'ills spread - have no meanin# at the level of the individual )Green, 0reston and Sa&ates, .//E-$ omparative research is thus a&out analysin# the pattern of relationship

&etween characteristics of societal or collective entities, whether they &e at national or other levels$

1here are, of course, many ways of usin# comparative methods to understand relationships of cause and effect$ =ohn Stuart 6ill famously wrote a&out the 6ethod of A#reement, the 6ethod of Difference, and the Indirect 6ethod, which is a com&ination of the two )6ill, *+,/-$ All methods of comparison in social science, whether 3uantitative or 3ualitative, are, in a sense, variations on this theme, althou#h it is rarely possi&le to meet 6ill s ideal re3uirements that all possi&ly operative varia&les are considered, &ecause we cannot 'now in advance what they all are$ omparison wor's &y the manipulation of varia&les, holdin#

certain varia&les constant, so as to test the independent effects of other o&served varia&les on outcomes )Smelser, *+,5-$

Nuantitative comparison does this statistically, esta&lishin# pro&a&ilistic relationships &etween independent and dependent varia&les, and has the advanta#e that it can simultaneously test correlations amon#st a lar#e num&er of varia&les$ %owever, 3uantitative analysis faces ma2or limitations in cross-societal comparison$ 1here are often insufficient data for many of the societal units that mi#ht &e studied, thus reducin# the num&er of possi&le cases in the sample to a point where there are more varia&les than there are cases$ 1his ma'es statistical analysis unrelia&le$ Statisticians may respond &y widenin# the sample to a very disparate ran#e of countries or units, to achieve sufficient cases, &ut this introduces new pro&lems a&out comparin# societies that are essentially incompara&le e8cept at meanin#less


levels of a&straction$ Statistical comparison across societal units can &e very powerful when it pays respect to the comple8ity of societal phenomena, &ut it is not always possi&le$

If comparative analysis is defined as comparin# across societal entities, as ar#ued here, then harles Ra#in is pro&a&ly ri#ht to ar#ue that the characteristic method is that of 3ualitative comparison, or what he calls the ;comparative lo#ical method: )Ra#in, *+C*-$ 1his method does not wor' with samples or populations &ut with all relevant instances of the phenomenon in 3uestion, or with a set of these cases which the researcher decides are relevant, and which will set the limits of #enerali<ation for the e8planation$ onse3uently, there is no temptation to compare lar#e samples of dissimilar cases where the num&er of varia&les is so wide as to defy analysis$ 1he lo#ical method has a num&er of other advanta#es$ Firstly, whereas statistical analyses finds it hard to deal with multiple causation, lo#ical comparative analysis tends to wor' with confi#urations of conditions$ 1he lo#ical method re3uires e8planation of all cases under consideration$ A num&er of valid sets of preconditions for the outcome of interest can &e identified, whereas statistical analysis will only tend to &rin# out the most dominant )Ra#in, *+C*-$ Secondly, whereas statisticians only e8amine the relationship &etween specific varia&les, lo#ical comparative analysis e8amines cases holistically and in their ;real: conte8t$ Nualitative analysis can therefore pay more attention to the actual

mechanisms of causation, whereas statistical analysis alone cannot #o &eyond determinin# the pro&a&le stren#th and direction of causation$ Lo#ical comparative analysis cannot, of course, claim that its findin#s can &e #enerali<ed &eyond the cases under review, &ut in avoidin# the universali<in# tendencies of statistical approaches, it tends to respect the unities of time and place which are, ar#ua&ly, essential to any credi&le historical or sociolo#ical analysis$



omparative analysis can &e conducted in a num&er of different ways and for

different purposes$ In their very illuminatin# article on comparative historical sociolo#y, for instance, 1heda S'ocpol and 6ar#aret Somers distin#uish &etween three primary types of comparative ;lo#ics-in-use: )S'ocpol and Somers, *+C/-$ 1he first type, descri&ed as ;parallel demonstration of theory: and e8emplified &y 0erry Anderson:s 1ineages o the 3bsolutist State )*+,F-, involves usin# comparison to illustrate the application of previously derived theories in different historical cases$ 1he process of applyin# the theory to #iven cases may enrich and refine the theory, and may demonstrate the e8planatory power of the theory, &ut comparison is not used here either to #enerate or validate the hypotheses$ In the second type of ;contrast-oriented: comparison:, e8emplified &y Reinhard "endi8:s Nation4"uilding and Citizenship )*+,,-, what matters most is that the historical inte#rity of each case is respected$ omparison is used to demonstrate the variety and particularity of historical conditions, thus throwin# into relief the essential characteristics of each uni3ue case$ 1heori<in# tends not to &e as e8plicit as in the ;parallel: type, and comparison is not #enerally used to #enerate the e8planations, which are usually derived at the level of each case, althou#h within a common comparative frame of reference$

1he third type of comparison is descri&ed as ;macro-causal analysis: and it is here, and only here, where systematic controlled comparison is used to #enerate and test hypotheses and e8planations of cause and effects relationships$ 1his, as S'ocpol and Somers ri#htly ar#ue, represents the most powerful form of comparative analysis and can involve wor's of hu#e comple8ity and power, such as "arrin#ton 6oore:s ma#isterial Social 0rigins o %emocracy and %ictatorship )*+55-$ 1he difficulty with such wor's lies in maintainin# an analyticallydriven discourse, which moves constantly &etween positive and ne#ative cases, whilst also maintainin# sufficient narrative detail a&out time and place so that the sense of historical

period is not lost$ %istorians and historical sociolo#ists will often disa#ree a&out the point at which such theori<in# moves &eyond the #enuinely ;historical:$

1he methods of lo#ical comparison which address cause and effect relationships are mostly variations on the ;indirect method: which 6ill thou#ht peculiarly suita&le for phenomena which have multiple causation )6ill, *+,/-$ "asically, the investi#ator e8amines multiple instances where a particular phenomenon occurs, notin# whatever conditions they have in common, and compares these with a ran#e of instances where the phenomenon does not occur$ If certain condition)s- are common to the first set and are a&sent in the second set, and if the cases are otherwise similar, you can assume that these conditions represent causes of the phenomenon in 3uestion in these cases! 1he method is always lia&le to the accusation that there are third causes which it has failed to o&serve, &ut this can &e the case also, althou#h it is less li'ely, in 3uantitative analysis, where a correlation may &e due to an uno&served varia&le which affects &oth of the correlated varia&les simultaneously$ 4either of the methods can determine for sure what is cause and what is effect, althou#h 3uantitative methods have more chances of doin# this where there is a lon#itudinal element and 3ualitative methods where there is some e8amination of the causal process$ Anly natural e8periments and randomi<ed controlled trials, with controlled samples and time frames, can escape these flaws &ut even there social scientists may fail to understand what attri&ute of the intervention is havin# a #iven effect$

6acro-causal comparative analysis is, therefore, one B uni3uely powerful - form of comparative analysis amon#st several others valid forms, all of which aspire &roadly to e8planation$ In relation, then, to comparative education we may &roadly a#ree with =ur#en Schriewer:s contention that ;as a social scientific method, comparison does not consist in

relatin# o&serva&le facts &ut in relatin# relationships or even patterns of relationship to each other: )Schriewer and %olmes, *+CC-$ In order to warrant claims to comparative method, comparative education must #o &eyond classification and parallel description of cases$ 1his may optimally &e done throu#h macro analysis of causal relationships, &ut it may also involve ;contrastive: and ;parallel: methods, where these are at least see'in# to confront theoretical propositions with empirical o&servation$

1he pro&lem with contemporary comparative education research is that much - or even most of it is not actually comparative in any of the a&ove senses$ 1his is well illustrated &y An#ela Littles recent survey of articles pu&lished in Comparative Education &etween *+,, and *+CC which shows that over G/ per cent have &een sin#le country studies$ Some of these may &e what Leach and 0reston call comparisons in a sin#le nation &ut Little concludes that only a small percenta#e Oof articlesP have adopted an e8plicitly comparative approach )Little, .///$ 0$.CG-$ 0ro&a&ly the vast ma2ority of pu&lished studies in comparative education #enerally are either non-comparative analyses of sin#le countries or parallel descriptions of education practises and policies across a #roup of countries )which would fall into %op'ins: and !allersteins cate#ory of multi-national studies( *+,/5! !hatever the merits of these types of study, and they may &e #reat, neither necessarily uses comparative methods to analyse or test hypotheses a&out cause and effect relationships, or even to confront theory and evidence comparatively to produce what !e&er called ;understandin#:$

!e may &elieve, as I do, that it is not helpful to police disciplinary frontiers or to draw sharp lines around field of study$ "ut any field or discipline needs some core and distin#uishin# methodolo#ical criteria$ In comparative education, and indeed any field of comparative


research, these must include the use of comparison to further e8planation or to test claims a&out cause and effect relationships$ In the a&sence of natural e8periments in social science, the comparative method is the ne8t &est thin# to scientific ;proof: and comparative education as a field would lose much credi&ility as a ri#orous academic pursuit if it did not use this systematically$

omparative education needs to compare, and to do this systematically, if it is avoid the accusation that it too often de#enerates into a catalo#ue of traveller s tales, policy advocacy and opportunistic rationali<ations of unscientific policy-&orrowin#$ Ane way that it can do this is to draw more on the mainstream of comparative history and social science research for its concepts, methodolo#y and evidence$ "ut it is stri'in#, when you revisit the central te8ts of the comparative education canon, how removed comparative education has &een from some of the main currents in comparative history and social science$ It is hard not too conclude that comparative education has &een at times somewhat insular@ sometimes too preoccupied with self-referential internal de&ates, includin# those perennials a&out the limits of policy &orrowin# and the &oundaries of comparative and international approaches ! omparativists would do well to ta'e more account of relevant comparative wor' in co#nate fields, as well as to remem&er the important wor' in comparative education carried out &y un&aptised comparativists who do not #o to comparative conferences and who do not see themselves as professional comparative educationalists )Ale8ander, .//*-$ Apenin# up omparative Education in the .*st century should mean em&racin# all those who use comparative methods and whose wor' can help in understandin# educational pro&lems$


omparative analysis remains the most powerful tool for )causal- e8planation of societal aspects of the educational process$ Glo&alisation does not reduce its usefulness, althou#h in creatin# educational spaces which &elon# e8clusively to neither nations nor systems, it ma'es us loo' to &roadenin# our units of analysis$ 1he ma2or challen#es posed for comparative education today, as ever &efore, are essentially twofold$ Firstly, it is to ma'e the field #enuinely comparative$ Secondly, it is to &rin# it &ac' from its relative isolation into the mainstream of comparative social scienceMhistorical sociolo#y where it ri#htly &elon#s$ 1he enormous richness of the current social science de&ate around #lo&alisation should at least help to ma'e the second challen#e attractive$

Andy Green School of Lifelon# Education and International Development Institute of Education ./ "edford !ay London ! *% AAL andy$#reenQioe$ac$u' References AL"ER1, 6$ )*++E- Capitalism against Capitalism, London, !hurr 0u&lishers$ ALE?A4DER, R$ ).//*- "order crossin#( towards a comparative peda#o#y, Comparative Education, E, )F-, pp$ G/,- G.F$ A4DERSA4, 0$ )*+,F- 1ineages o the 3bsolutist State, London, >erso$ AR %ER, 6$ )*+5+- )he Social 0rigins o Educational Systems, London, Sa#e$ AS%1A4, D$ DA>IES, "$ FELS1EAD, A$ and GREE4, F$ )*+++- +ork Skills in "ritain, !arwic' Dniversity, S7A0E$ AS%1A4, D$ and GREE4, F$ )*++5- Education, )raining and the Global Economy, Aldershot, Edward El#ar$ AS%1A4, D$, GREE4, F$ =A6ES, D$ and SD4G, =$ )*+++- Education and )raining or %evelopment: )he .olitical Economy o Skills Formation in East 3sian Ne#ly (ndustrialized Economies, London, Routled#e$


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