- A personal post-doctoral project funded by the Academy of Finland for years 2012–2015 / PhD Jaakko Kauko
The global increase in the political importance of education has not yet led to more developed theoretical instruments in the field. Different approaches in comparative education seem to have a problem with complexity and lack a tool for solid socio-historical analysis. My research aims to develop a novel theoretical model, which will have the potential to overcome the challenges in comparative education. For this purpose I need to carry out empirical research in two contrasting contexts in education politics. This research comprises two tasks: (T1) Empirically compare dynamics in education politics in England and Finland, (T2) Expand the theoretical frontiers of comparative education through state-of-the-art theoretical work.
At the heart of my research is a theoretical model of dynamics in politics, which I developed in my dissertation drawing on the conceptual history of politics and, further, on agenda-setting theories. The socio-historical complexity can best be analysed along two dimensions: the political situation and political possibilities. Politics as a situation connotes the idea of an opportune moment, or kairos, when politics can be changed and when a historical rupture is visible. Political possibilities have a lot to do with politicization: it re-interprets some issue as a conflict or re-organizes a conflict at hand. Within these two dimensions the theoretical model describes four different types of dynamics: friction, consensual change, gridlock and reform.
The developing of the theoretical model combines three empirical sources. Firstly, I have already analysed Finnish higher education politics on the basis of elite interviews and documentary material. Secondly, I have been involved in different projects analysing Finnish and European comprehensive education politics and the first results support the political-dynamics approach. Thirdly, I am looking forward to contrasting the model to the English context. For this purpose I will collect documents from relevant institutions and conduct theme interviews.