(un)Doing standards in education with actor-network theory



Fenwick T (2010) (un)Doing standards in education with actor-network theory. Journal of Education Policy, 25 (2), pp. 117-133.

Recent critiques have drawn important attention to the depoliticized consensus and empty promises embedded in network discourses of educational policy. While acceding this critique, this discussion argues that some forms of network analysis – specifically those adopting actor-network theory (ANT) approaches - actually offer useful theoretical resources for policy studies. Drawing from ANT-inspired studies of policy processes associated with educational standards, the article shows the ambivalences and contradictions as well as the possibilities that can be illuminated by ANT analysis of standards as networks. The discussion outlines the diverse network conceptions, considerations and sensibilities afforded by ANT approaches. Then it shows four phenomena that have been highlighted by ANT studies of educational standards: ordering (and rupturing) practice through ‘immutable mobiles’, local universality, tensions among networks of prescription and networks of negotiation, and different co-existing ontological forms of the same standards. The conclusion suggests starting points, drawing from these ANT-inspired network analyses, for examining policy processes associated with educational standards.

standards; educational policy; actor-network theory; Education Philosophy; Actor-network theory; Curriculum planning Cross-cultural studies

Journal of Education Policy: Volume 25, Issue 2

Publication date31/03/2010
Publication date online01/04/2010
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)

People (1)


Professor Tara Fenwick
Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education