Education policy as numbers: Data categories and two Australian cases of misrecognition

Lingard, Bob, Creagh, Sue and Vass, Greg (2012) Education policy as numbers: Data categories and two Australian cases of misrecognition. Journal of Education Policy, 27 3: 315-333. doi:10.1080/02680939.2011.605476

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Author Lingard, Bob
Creagh, Sue
Vass, Greg
Title Education policy as numbers: Data categories and two Australian cases of misrecognition
Journal name Journal of Education Policy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0268-0939
Publication date 2012-05
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/02680939.2011.605476
Open Access Status
Volume 27
Issue 3
Start page 315
End page 333
Total pages 18
Place of publication Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, U.K.
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted abstract
While numbers, data and statistics have been part of the bureaucracy since the emergence of the nation state, the paper argues that the governance turn has seen the enhancement of the significance of numbers in policy. The policy as numbers phenomenon is exemplified through two Australian cases in education policy, linked to the national schooling reform agenda. The first case deals with the category of students called Language Backgrounds Other than English (LBOTE) in Australian schooling policy – students with LBOTE. The second deals with the ‘closing the gap’ approach to Indigenous schooling. The LBOTE case demonstrates an attempt at recognition, but one that fails to create a category useful for policy-makers and teachers in relation to the language needs of Australian students. The Indigenous case of policy misrecognition confirms Gillborn’s analysis of gap talk and its effects; a focus on closing the gap, as with the new politics of recognition, elides structural inequalities and the historical effects of colonisation. With this case, there is a misrecognition that denies Indigenous knowledges, epistemologies and cultural rights. The contribution of the paper to policy sociology is twofold: first in showing how ostensive politics of recognition can work as misrecognition with the potential to deny redistribution and secondly that we need to be aware of the socially constructed nature of categories that underpin contemporary policy as numbers and evidence-based policy.
Keyword Education policy
Technologies of governance
‘Gap talk’
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online: 06 Sep 2011

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Education Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 13 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 27 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 14 May 2012, 12:12:36 EST by Claire Backhouse on behalf of School of Education