A feel for numbers: affect, data and education policy

Sellar, Sam (2014) A feel for numbers: affect, data and education policy. Critical Studies in Education, 56 1: 131-146. doi:10.1080/17508487.2015.981198


Author Sellar, Sam
Title A feel for numbers: affect, data and education policy
Journal name Critical Studies in Education   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1750-8495
1750-8487
Publication date 2014-12-13
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/17508487.2015.981198
Open Access Status
Volume 56
Issue 1
Start page 131
End page 146
Total pages 16
Place of publication Melbourne VIC Australia
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract This article explores the relationship between commensuration and affect in various contexts of education policy. Commensuration is the process through which disparate qualities are transformed into a common metric and is central to the production of performance data. The rise of governance through numbers in education has resulted in a proliferation of performance data, comparisons and rankings that influence political debate and policymaking. The efficacy of data as a governance mechanism depends on their usage to shift perceptions of performance, and this involves both conscious interpretation and affective sense-making of data and their representation in multiple forms. For example, performance data used within accountability systems in education are linked to sanctions and rewards, and their effects are partially due to the feelings that are provoked. The relationship between affect and data is also important in the mobility of policy ideas, which spread via meetings that enable affective proximity between participants. This article draws on a philosophical concept of affect, defined as the feeling of transition in bodily states, and topological concepts that are being taken up in social theory, to consider new perspectives on education policy research that these thinking tools may afford.
Keyword Affect
Commensuration
Data
Education policy
PISA
Topology
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 13 Dec 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Education Publications
 
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