Education policy: explaining, framing and forming

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This paper presents a new heuristic device for the analysis of educational policy. Through an examination of the Evaluative State and the work of Brian Fay, the paper considers the way in which educational policy is subject to rational and linear forms of policy action and implementation. To counter this, positioning theory is deployed to consider the way in which we are produced both by discourse and the language of the 'moment' in discursive acts. Using the work of Gee, the paper contends that policy texts and policy Discourse 'themselves form policy, that is, they position policy explanation and policy framing within the bounds of the institution and so give policy form'. Problematically, such mechanisms may succumb to the 'death of subject' and accordingly I offer a third method by which we might conceive of education policy: the discursively produced position call. Subsequently, I propose a tri-partite theory for the examination and understanding of policy: policy explaining, the production of policy texts; policy framing, the ways in which all can be positioned by texts and Discourse to produce the meanings imbued upon policy; and, policy forming, the impact of moment-by-moment conversational acts for their production of the policy text itself, that is, the ways in which policy is locally formed rather than locally mediated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-307
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number3
Early online date11 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016


  • critical analysis
  • policy theory
  • positioning theory
  • educational policy


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