9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Higher Education IV Building I, 2E8

The conditioning of higher education change; The context of the quality assurance mechanisms in England, Japan and New York State

The purpose of the study is to clarify what conditions higher education change and the resistance of change. The study applies Giddens´ concept of constraint and enablement of social structure (1984), and explores the relationship between agency, structural and cultural conditions. This study then explores Archer´s Social Origins of Educational Systems (1984) by incorporating cultural aspect to explain restricting and enabling aspects of higher education change and taking an account of market-oriented trends in the last three decades.
The study argues that the combination of agency, structural and cultural approaches rather than single approach can explain higher education change. It proposes two causality models of higher education change. The first is the model in which structural and cultural elements determine agents´ action. This change tends to fall in the routine adjustment.
The second model refers to agency condition which is isolated from structural condition. Culture elements may shape dominant agents and agents´ choice of action as well as the range of the values underlined in proposed agenda. Such change may bring about dynamism.
The study examines a theoretical framework in the context of three "episodes" on the changing quality assurance mechanisms in England, Japan and New York State (see Giddens 1984, about "episodes" analysis). These analytical units - England; Japan; and New York State - do not correspond to political units because the UK and the US have the multiple higher education systems, each of which has different financial and to significant degree legal coordination. Those settings are comparable because they have commonly experienced expansion and shifted in the direction of the market force.
As the result of analysis, it becomes clear that three episodes fit in the first model. Those changes commonly occurred in the routine basis, rather than through detachment from the reproduction of existing structure. One of episodes presents the case in which existing cultural elements enabled higher education change.
The empirical part of the study was funded by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. This is the final paper of triple papers to disseminate the result of the project on higher education change.