Programme for semester 1 (2018/19)

Posted on

10 October 2018, 12-1 pm (Conference room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Introduction of new members and planning for 2018/19


7 November 2018, 12-1 pm (Meeting Room 3, 311 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Education, populism and civic virtue

Lindsay Paterson (Social Policy, University of Edinburgh)

A consistent finding of research on education’s civic effects is that it fosters liberalism, respect, tolerance, and social responsibility. Yet education has also, much more recently, been seen as a source of division – as arousing anger among those who have little of it. It has been speculated that this education divide is a potential explanation of various kinds of populist rebellion against educated liberal elites. The paper considers survey evidence from several countries that might cast light on these recent debates.


28 November, 12-1 pm (Conference room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building)

The distribution of student loans and grants: comparing the long-term financial impact of more targeted and more universal systems of student funding

Lucy Hunter Blackburn (School of Education, University of Edinburgh)

Lucy is currently in the final year of a PhD  studying the relationship between family income and how much ex-students have to pay back to government after taking part in higher education. Her research examines how far different decisions on “free tuition” in Scotland and Wales are associated with different distributions of total borrowing by end of course, according to family income, and how the actual repayments of those who started from lower income backgrounds are likely to compare to those starting from higher income ones. The research contributes to the wider debate about the relative merits of universalism and targeting, or means-testing, in public services, as a way of reducing inequality.


To be added to the group’s emailing list, please contact

What is the Relationship between Justice and Pluralism in School Policy? Why the Scottish School System is more unjust than the English

Posted on

Tuesday, 5 June 2018, 2-3 pm (room 3.15, 18 Buccleuch Place)

Philip Cook, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Edinburgh


What is the Relationship between Justice and Pluralism in School Policy? Why the Scottish School System is more unjust than the English

This presentation sets out an account of a ‘just plural school system’ that seeks to combine children’s entitlements as social equals, the expressive duties of school policy, with an account of a pluralist conception of liberalism. I briefly set out the principles, and then spend some time thinking through the implication for School policy. In particular I compare the Scottish and English systems and argue that the Scottish system is more unjust as it fails to express pluralism sufficiently.

Global, national, local – conceptions of citizenship among young people

Posted on

Wednesday, 18 April 2018, 12-1 pm (Conference Room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Christine Huebner, PhD researcher in social policy, University of Edinburgh


Global, national, local – conceptions of citizenship among young people

In light of an ongoing debate about an allegedly politically apathetic youth, ‘citizenship’ has become a catchphrase that scholars and practitioners employ to avoid a looming crisis of political legitimacy and educate a new generation of ‘responsible citizens’. It remains unclear, however, what it means to be a ‘good citizen’.

Having listened to young people in Scotland and the Netherlands talk about their understanding of citizenship, Christine learnt that the locus of citizenship is key for an understanding of what it entails. Given an increasingly globalized political and media landscape local, national, and global citizenship are meaningful concepts for young people, albeit very different ones. For some young people these understandings of citizenship are not sufficiently distinguishable, causing citizenship-as-legal-status and rights claiming to be conflated with a moralized version of citizenship (‘citizenship-as-desirable-activity’). In this presentation, Christine will share some very early analysis from her conversations with 46 young people aged 15 to 18 years, looking for feedback and suggestions for further analyses.

Exploring how best practices in education policy are developed in a European expert group

Posted on

CANCELLED – Monday 19 March 2018, 12-1 pm (Conference Room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Dr Natalie Papanastasiou, Postdoctoral Researcher, Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam


Exploring how best practices in education policy are developed in a European expert group

The sharing and development of best practices is without doubt a cornerstone characteristic of European governance. Best practices are a central feature of the Open Method of Coordination which, together with benchmarks, evaluations, and joint objectives are framed as holding the greatest promise for achieving greater European coordination across policy sectors. The travel and adoption of best practice has been extensively investigated within the literature on policy transfer and learning, which has been particularly developed by scholars of European public policy. However, this presentation argues that the process through which best practices come into being remains relatively neglected. It presents analysis from a Leverhulme Trust-funded project that explores the case of a European Commission Working Group in the field of education which develops best practices for governing school systems. By drawing on 70 hours of observation fieldwork, the analysis sheds light on what constitutes best practice, what kinds of best practices are shared, and how new best practices are developed during European encounters. By doing so, it reveals the politics these practices work to conceal, and discusses the implications for understandings of Europe’s OMC and the European governance of education.

Antisocial behaviour and inequalities in Mexican schools

Posted on

13 December 2017, 1-2 pm (CMB Conference room 2.15)

Fernando Pantoja (Criminology, University of Edinburgh)


Antisocial behaviour and inequalities in Mexican schools

Inequality in Mexico has caused a social and spatial segmentation, in which social mobility is hard and the opportunities of individuals depend to a large extent on their social class. In this sense, although schools are meant to be places of social interaction where students develop social networks and learn to interact with other people outside their family, Mexican schools often serve as a mechanism of social segmentation, limiting the interaction with other social groups. What is more, schools in some of the most disadvantaged communities are no longer seen as a way to improve living conditions, and several studies have pointed out that some characteristics and factors that exist in these institutions are linked to other problems, including antisocial behaviour.

Despite the frequent use of the term ‘inequality’ in many fields, literature about crime and schools have focused mainly in the analysis and impact of poverty and deprivation and very little research has been carried out around how disparities within and between schools impact students. Moreover, although most people are aware of the role of school capital, inequalities in this context often refer only to disparities in economic wealth, leaving behind other issues such as social networks and cultural knowledge. Thus, using data from a national evaluation of the education system in Mexico, this research aims to analyse the relationship between inequality and antisocial behaviour in schools in Mexico. At the same time, it will intend to investigate the extent to which individual and structural inequalities impact on antisocial behaviour over and above poverty. This presentation will focus mainly on presenting some key factors that are necessary to understand the problem of antisocial behaviour in schools in Mexico, as well as some preliminary findings and the methodological approach that will be used to continue with this research.

Why do Swedes trust the State and Scots don’t?

Posted on

15 November 2017, 1-2 pm (CMB Conference room 2.15)

Ingela Naumann and Lindsay Paterson, University of Edinburgh


Why do Swedes trust the State and Scots don’t? An exploration of the religious foundations of state-citizens relations in modern welfare systems

In Scottish political debate, Scotland is often likened to the Nordic countries in its views about social justice. Yet social policy making in Scotland has followed ‘un-Nordic’ routes. An immediate explanation would be that Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, is also part of its liberal welfare regime. This explanation may, however, be too simple. In this paper we explore how the Protestant traditions of Presbyterianism and Lutheranism have shaped state-church relations differently in Scotland and Sweden, resulting in different understandings of the role of the state and civil society in public welfare.

Until recently, the dominant understanding in comparative research was that religion mattered for the development of the welfare state in predominantly Catholic countries, but not for Protestant ones. There is now a growing body of historically oriented research that counters this view pointing not to the absence (or presence) of religion, but to the denominational differences of church-state relations as important explanations for variations in national social policy. In this paper we explore this question by comparing Scotland with Sweden, in relation to church, state authority and citizens.

The relative autonomy of Scotland following the Treaty of Union with England in 1707 has been attributed to institutions which were independent of the state and yet governed society locally. The autonomy was guaranteed by the independence of the Scottish Presbyterian Kirk from state intrusion. Scottish civil society was thus independent of the state because Calvinism Presbyterianism is theologically distant from the state. In this, the Scottish Presbyterian tradition differs fundamentally from Lutheranism. In Sweden state and church have been closely linked since King Gustav Vasa instigated the Church of Sweden in 1536 thereby separating it from the Catholic Church. In 1593 the Swedish Church and with it all the king’s subjects became Lutheran. The specific character of the church-state relation created the basis for the expectation in Swedish society that the state should be responsible for social welfare. While the religious influence of the Swedish Church faded throughout the 20th century, it was only in 2000 that the Church became officially separated from the State. Thus the Lutheran ‘two kingdom doctrine’ drew the church close to the state in secular matters, whereas its version in Scottish Calvinism kept the two quite separate from each other.

We draw on extensive scholarship since the 1980s about Scottish civil society and about church and state in Sweden to exemplify how Presbyterianism and Lutheranism, respectively, conditioned modern social policy debates in Scotland and Sweden. We look particularly at education as an example of the relation between state and church.

Programme for semester 1 (2017/2018)

Posted on

Welcome back to a new academic year!

We are a group of staff and doctoral students who meet several times a semester to discuss our research and current developments in education policy in an informal setting. Everyone is welcome to join the group or just come along to one of the presentations.

Here’s our programme for semester 1:


15 November 2017, 1-2 pm (CMB Conference room)

Why do Swedes trust the State and Scots don’t? An exploration of the religious foundations of state-citizens relations in modern welfare systems.

Ingela Naumann and Lindsay Paterson (Social Policy, University of Edinburgh)


13 December 2017, 1-2 pm (CMB Conference room)

Antisocial behaviour and inequalities in Mexican schools

Fernando Pantoja (Criminology, University of Edinburgh)


To be added to the group’s emailing list, please contact or

Suggestions for presentations for next semester are very welcome!


Best wishes,

Anna & Niko

The phantom national? Using an ‘assemblage analytic’ to understand national schooling reforms

Posted on

29 August 2017, 1-2 pm (CMB Conference room 2.15)

Dr Glenn C. Savage, University of Western Australia


The phantom national? Using an ‘assemblage analytic’ to understand national schooling reforms.

In this seminar, Dr. Glenn C. Savage will use the development of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) as an illustrative case to examine how national schooling reforms are being assembled in Australia’s federal system. Drawing upon an emerging body of research on ‘policy assemblages’ within the fields of policy sociology and anthropology, he will explore the ways that so-called ‘national reforms’ evolve from complex and uneven interactions between diverse policy ideas, practices, actors and organisations. He will argue that while reforms like the APST claim to be national in form and scope, ‘the national’ is better understood as a disjunctive and phantom-like assemblage of heterogeneous parts, which often reflect transnational traits and impulses

Glenn is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Education at the University of Western Australia. His current research examines how schooling policies in federal systems are mediated by transnational flows of policy ideas and practices. He currently holds an Australian Research Council ‘Discovery Early Career Researcher Award’ (DECRA) titled ‘National schooling reform and the reshaping of Australian federalism’ (2016-2019).

A Typology of Gendered Pipelines: reconfiguring the approach to researching gender (in)equality in academic/research careers and organizations

Posted on

24 May, 1-2 pm (CMB Conference room 2.15)

Farah Dubois-Shaik, Université Catholique de Louvain


A Typology of Gendered Pipelines: reconfiguring the approach to researching gender (in)equality in academic/research careers and organizations

Farah Dubois-Shaik & Bernard Fusulier

In this paper we propose a new Typology of Gendered Pipelines that provides a multi-level, multi-dimensional and comparative analytical framework of leaky pipelines and interrelated phenomena across six European countries and research institutions (Italy, Slovenia, Iceland, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands). Along with previous studies and with a number of contemporary European studies, the FP7 GARCIA project, researching academic and research careers and organizations, establishes that the moving away of women from the scientific or academic path, leading to higher positions does not happen so simply as one could imagine at first glance and that rather than adopting mono-causality, we have to take a more composite view of causes and effects when thinking about the “Leaky Pipeline” and other phenomena (Dubois-Shaik & Fusulier, 2016). Pipelines, in both policy and organizational discourse, are often seen as either career trajectories, or organizational career pathways that point to “leaks”, which are undeniably present in all our case-study institutions. However, in this paper we argue that we cannot simply adopt an approach of “filling the gaps” or of pointing the fingers at gatekeepers. Our various project results have fed the focus on the “leaky pipeline” by providing us with a rich multi-level perspective (gender and welfare regimes, comparative statistical organizational data, organizational culture, structures and governance, experiences of early researchers and academics); a multi-dimensional perspective (regimes, organizational systems, scientific fields, governing units, sex, gender, periods/stages of the career, work/life interference, relationships, power, cultures, contexts etc.); and a comparative perspective (across seven/six European countries, research institutions, SSH/STEM institutes, comparing women/men). This permits us to enlarge the research perspective to “Gendered Pipelines” rather than simply “leaky” pipelines. Through the case-study analyses, we have induced a typology of gendered pipelines, which present on the one hand three abstract ideal-type configurations as they may appear in various cases, allowing for a range of different imaged patterns, based on the circus metaphor that we argue is particularly suited to the academic/research environment. And secondly, these ideal-types are paired with three configurations of gendered career paths and organizations as they may appear in real case studies and through which organizations can identify their gender inequality practices. The aim of identifying these three types, induced from our real case-studies, is to better understand different natures of complex, multivariable, composite “leaky” pipelines; this composition would allow us to situate the different career paths and organizations, not in a scale of more or less “leaks” of women leaving the career, but rather in what is at stake for different levels of the gendered pipelines, in other words what costs are incurred on the level of the individual workers, the organization and science (Latour and Woolgar, 1986).

Elites and Expertise: The changing material production of knowledge for policy

Posted on

26 April, 1-2 pm (CMB Conference room 2.15)

Jenny Ozga, Professor Emeritus, Department of Education, Oxford & Honorary Professorial Fellow, School of Social and Political Science, Edinburgh.



The seminar draws on work in progress on the Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship ‘Governing Education: knowledge and policy in England and Scotland since 1986’. This study investigates the changing relationship between knowledge and policy, looking at the changing forms of knowledge available to policy actors and the effects of these changing knowledges (for example the growth of statistics, digital media and data) on the capacity of policy actors (including experts and elites) to govern education. The seminar compares the knowledge technologies and material processes available to policy elites and experts in the 1980s and in the contemporary context in England, assesses the impact of changes in the material production of knowledge on how elites and expertise are understood, and considers their implications for understanding knowledge-policy relationships.

Back to top

© School of Social and Political Science 2017