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Taming the time zone: National large-scale assessments as instruments of time in the Russian Federation




Russian Federation, governance, time, space, national large-scale assessments, performance technology


Nationwide large-scale assessments (NLSA)—an example of cross-border policy mobility—manifest a proliferating means of governing formal schooling. In the Russian context, NLSA takes the form of a compulsory graduation examination called the Unified State Examinations (USE). In this article, we explore how a mobile policy instrument of the NLSA participates in the relational processes of time- and space-making in a particular federated context of Russia, and how this process intertwines with and is shaped by the presence of multiple time zones. We argue that NLSA is an instrument of time that attempts to achieve centralization of the complex federated structure of the Russian Federation. Yet, the work of the NLSA is not a smooth process in a country characterized by territorial vastness, a complex federated structure, and the existence of multiple time zones. Guided by the theory of logistical power and sociological perspectives on time, as well as empirical insights, we show how the time zones need to be tamed in order for the NLSA to exercise its centralizing role. Discursively, the time zone is introduced and publicly discussed to symbolically characterize Russia and justify political actions or their outcomes. Bureaucratically, the desire for simultaneity and synchronicity takes the form of a meticulous ordering of a sequence of actions through prescriptive documentation that regulates the NLSA. Technologically, synchronicity, simultaneity, and instantaneousness rely on and engender an expanding national infrastructure that mediates social relations and the processes of conducting the NLSA, cutting across the time zones and federal units. Based on this analysis, we propose that scholarship on policy mobility and education policy sociology at large could benefit from examining the relationship between time and education policy and governance in four intertwined ways: the time of policy, context as time, policy instruments as instruments of time, and time in policy instruments.


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Author Biographies

Nelli Piattoeva, Tampere University

Nelli Piattoeva, PhD, is an associate professor at the Faculty of Education and Culture, Tampere University, Finland. Her research looks at how digitalization and quantification act as technologies of education governance at a distance. She also examines childhood and schooling under socialism and post-socialism through memories of cultural insiders.

Nadezhda Vasileva, Tampere University

Nadezhda Vasileva, MSSc, is a doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Finland. Her research focuses on diverse practices and policies that shape the experiences and identities of young people. In particular, Vasileva is interested in how education governance, using impersonal means, is involved in the maintaining and building of commonality.




How to Cite

Piattoeva, N., & Vasileva, N. (2023). Taming the time zone: National large-scale assessments as instruments of time in the Russian Federation. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 31.



Global Policy Mobilities in Federal Education Systems