Critical policy scholarship in education: An overview




educational policy, policy analysis, critical theory, critical policy scholarship, critique, advocacy


This paper presents an overview of critical policy scholarship (CPS) in education. Historically, policy research has been dominated by what is commonly referred to as the policy science tradition, which is positivist in its philosophical stance and instrumentalist in its purpose—it focuses on producing knowledge relevant for policy decisions. However, with the rise of interpretive social inquiry in the 1970s and against the backdrop of unique political developments in the 1980s, CPS emerged as an alternative policy research perspective. This review discusses the scope and foci of CPS in education under four themes: methodological assumptions, interdisciplinary roots, enduring analytical goals, and emerging empirical contexts. Implications of the prevalence of inequality, Big Data and digital panopticon for educational policymaking and policy research are also briefly discussed. The paper concludes that although its foci of analysis have shifted considerably in the last four decades, analytical interest and tools of CPS remain largely unchanged. 



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Author Biography

Tebeje Molla, Deakin University

Tebeje Molla (PhD) is a Research Fellow in the School of Education, Deakin University, Australia. His research areas include educational inequality and transnational education policy processes. He is currently leading a nationally-funded project that explores higher education participation among African refugee youth in Australia. Dr Molla is a recipient of the European Commission’s Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Award (2007-2009), the Australian Government’s International Postgraduate Scholarship (2009-2013), and an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2019-2021). Theoretically, his work is informed by critical sociology and the capability approach to social justice and human development.




How to Cite

Molla, T. (2021). Critical policy scholarship in education: An overview. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(January - July), 2.