Globalization, Education Restructuring and Teacher Unions in

Globalization, Education Restructuring and Teacher Unions in France
and Greece: Decentralization Policies or Disciplinary Parochialism?
Harris Athanasiades, University of Crete
Alexandros Patramanis, University of Bristol
Paper presented to the European Science Foundation – Exploratory Workshop
Globalization, Education Restructuring and Social Cohesion in Europe
Barcelona, 3rd – 5th October 2002
In this paper, we argue that the concepts of decentralization, de-concentration, delegation
and devolution, in short D-policies, increasingly fail to capture the broader dynamics and
strategic shifts that characterize current educational restructuring and are invariously
attributed to “globalization”. All these terms assume a centre and a periphery comprising
a static, uni-scalar, self-enclosed, territorially bound and functionally fixed system with
the lines of authority and responsibility moving along a single, vertical axon.
At the root of the problem lies a definition of the state as a sovereign, centralized
authority over a territorially fixed geographical area. This representation assumes an
isomorphic link between territory and sovereignty and perceives the state as a selfenclosed container of economic, political and cultural processes. As a result of this statecentric epistemology, recent transformations of the state are interpreted either as a
process of state demise, withering away or decline or alternatively in a “it is business as
usual” manner.
Contrary to that, we would argue that the state is actually being rescaled, a process
manifested in two, among others, overlapping processes: the de-nationalization of
statehood and the de-statization of politics. The former process refers to the increasing
de-prioritization of the national scale as the “natural” and “appropriate” level of policyand decision-making. The latter refers to the de-prioritization of the statist mode of
governance and its tendencial replacement by hybrid forms of public-private, contractual
regimes. These trends are most evidently manifested in the proliferation of the
institutions of global, regional and sub-national governance that attempt to articulate the
emergent scalar reconfiguration of state power and capacities and in the dominant
ideology of our epoch - Third Way-ism - that cements such a project. Drawing upon the
reactions of academics and teacher unions in France and Greece over the “Anglo-Saxon”
turn of their education system, we argue that in the former case what seems to be at the
centre of attention is more the de-nationalization of the politics of education, while in the
latter Greek teacher unions have focused more on the de-statization of the politics of
education. We conclude that, despite the discursive convergence and the globalization of
policy shift, common trends are mediated by specific institutional paradigms and social
struggles that produce distinct policy outcomes.
Globalisation and the state: clearing the ground of the debate
This workshop is about Globalisation, Education Restructuring and Social Cohesion in
Europe. Surprisingly, the state, national or otherwise, doesn’t appear on the agenda. This
is surprising mainly for three reasons: the first is that for those who have proven rather
reluctant to abandon or dismiss a supposedly quaint bundle of ideas, and we can identify
at least half a dozen amongst the audience, the state’s generic or “global” function in a
socially divided society is to ensure social cohesion.
The second is that, for historical and political reasons, education has been the most
national and the most statist of all the social services funded, provided and regulated by
the national state. Historically, education has been both parent and child to the
developing nation state and schooling, by constructing the very subjectivities of
citizenship and justifying the relationship between the state and the people, has been the
most powerful weapon for forming nations (Hobsbawm 1977: 120, Green 1997: 1, 35).
Politically, education has been one of the key state institutions that guarantee the extraeconomic conditions of accumulation and secure societal cohesion (social cohesion and
national identity) (Dale 2002a).
The third reason has to do with globalisation itself and the, explicit or implicit,
assumption that, being a powerful force, it can surpass the state and cause, among other
changes, educational restructuring and/or the erosion of social cohesion. In this case, the
state is treated as external to globalisation, as a fetter to be removed, or as a point of
“fixity” that creates “rigidities” to the flow of capital. The globalisation orthodoxy, for
instance, emphasizes the ongoing de-centering of the national scale of political and
economic regulation and the dis-embedding of social, economic and political relations
from their local-territorial preconditions. Multi-national corporations, we are told, have
become trans-national entities relocating their operations as profit dictates and beyond the
power of national control. Consequently, the argument goes, national states are no longer
able to manage their national economies and their borders have become porous. From
that it is derived that the “spaces of flows is superseding the spaces of places” (Castells
1996), that the national borders have become irrelevant or obsolete (Ohmae 1995), that
the nationally organized identities are being “de-territorialized” (Appadurai 1996) and
that the supra-territorial spaces based upon “distantless, borderless interactions and
qualities” (Scholte 1996) are diminishing the role of territorial socio-institutional forms.
Some have proclaimed the “demise” (Castells 1997; ii: 275, Lash and Urry 1994: 325) or
the “withering away” (Baumann 1998: 57, Beck 1999) of the nation-state. Castells (1997,
ii: 276), in a highly poetic manner, concludes that the “historically emptied nation-states
[are] drifting on the high seas of global flows of power”.
The assumption that globalisation is a causal mechanism and a transformative force is
rather widespread and is held not only by the so-called “hyper-globalisers” but also by
their godfathers, the “transformationalists” themselves:
globalisation is a central driving force behind the rapid social, political and
economic changes that are reshaping modern societies and world order…In this
respect, globalisation is conceived as a powerful transformative force which is
responsible for a massive shake out of societies, economies, institutions of
governance and world order (Held et al 1999: 7).
This view is not confined to academic circles but has been adopted by economic and
political organizations like the EU. The opening sentence of the Lisbon European
Council (2000, para. 1) writes:
The European Union is confronted with a quantum shift resulting from
globalisation and the challenges of the now knowledge-driven economy. These
changes are affecting every aspect of people’s lives and require a radical
transformation of the European economy.
There are two points to be made here: the first refers to the concept of globalization itself
and the second to the ontology of space, state, sovereignty and territory. Over the last
decade or so, globalization has acquired the epistemological status of an explanatory
concept that supposedly can account for a series of phenomena ranging from state and
education restructuring to the erosion of social cohesion. Rather than being, along with
restructuring or cohesion, the object to be explained, it has acquired the ontological status
of a causal mechanism. Despite its status, globalisation is a rather over-inflated catchall
term that tends to increase rather than reduce the confusion regarding recent economic,
political and social changes. As a complex resultant of many multi-centric, multitemporal, multi-form and multi-causal processes globalisation is an emergent
phenomenon that lacks a particular causal efficacy of its own (Jessop 2000, Rosenberg
2000, Dale & Robertson 2002). Rather it constitutes what Marx (1972, part 3: 120) once
called “violent fusions of disconnected factors operating independently of one another yet
correlated”. And far from being an inevitable, irreversible and teleologically unfolding
force without a subject it is a process that involves a multiplicity of actors and strategic
projects striving to carve out of the new spatio-temporal matrices within which capital
and politics operate (Hay & March 2000, Jessop 2000). And, finally, capitalist states, far
from being the passive hosts of the evolutionary dynamic of capitalism, are actively
involved, in cooperation with a series of para-statal and supra-national organizations and
the leading fraction(s) of their national capitals, in the redrawing of these matrices in a
process punctuated by social struggles (Jessop 1999d).
As Jessop (1999a: 23) suggests globalisation is better interpreted as the “most inclusive
structural context in which processes on other scales can be identified and interrelated”;
or as part of the proliferation of scales and temporalities as narrated, institutionalized
objects of action, regularization and governance involving processes of global
interdependence and coordination among actions, organizations and institutions within
different functional systems and the life-world (Jessop 2000: 341-2). Moreover, being an
emergent phenomenon resulting from multi-scalar processes, globalisation critically
depends on sub-global developments not only because of the continuing, albeit
transformed, significance of the local, regional, national and triadic1 scales as sites of
social action but also due to the fact that smaller scales can be key sites of countertendencies and resistance to globalisation (Harvey 1989, Jessop 1999a). In fact, the forces
of globalisation, far from homogenizing everything, co-exist and co-evolve along with
localized structures and institutions, which constitute the actual transmission belts of
global practices (Dale & Robertson 2002). As a result, common threads are mediated by
1 For reasons of clarity we have distinguished triadic from regional scales: the term regional is used to refer
both to the sub-national/regional level (i.e. a district) and to the supra-national/regional level (i.e. EU). For
the purposes of this paper we would use regional only for the former case and triadic for the latter
local specificities and struggles and give rise to a diverse series of responses and
The second point refers to the nature of and the interrelations between space, state,
sovereignty and territory: the dominant tendency is to treat them, in a cyclical manner, as
ontologically pre-given and static features of fixed geographical entities. In this
paradigm, the state is defined as
a) a differentiated set of institutions and personnel embodying
b) centrality in the sense that political relations radiate outwards from a centre to
c) a territorially-demarcated area over which it exercises
d) a monopoly of authoritative binding rule-making, backed up by a monopoly of
the means of physical violence (e.g. Mann 1984)2.
This approach treats the state as a sovereign, 'power container' (Giddens 1985, 1990)
operating exclusively within defined territorial frontiers (Mann 1986) and perceives the
economy as a borderless exchange mechanism with no important territorial anchoring
that tears it apart as it flows through its frontiers (Ohmae 1995, Albrow 1996, Strange
1996, Castells 1997). Or alternatively, territoriality is understood as a relatively static and
unchanging geographical container that is not qualitatively modified by the globalisation
process. From this point of view the state is said to react to intensified global economic
interdependence by constructing new forms of national socio-economic policy without
itself being qualitatively transformed (Hirst & Tompson 1996, Mann 1997). As a result of
this “state-centric epistemology” that conceives space either as a pre-given geographical
container or as a form of territoriality stretched onto the global scale (Brenner 1999b), the
state is viewed as a political force and globalisation as an economic process and their
relationship in a zero-sum manner. Finally, it is assumed that the bundling of territoriality
and state sovereignty, what Taylor (1994) calls “exhaustive multiplicity”, is the essential
characteristic of the modern interstate system. This refers, on the one hand, to the
2 Interestingly the neo-Weberians in historical sociology and international relations have decided that the
state can rule even if it illegitimate and have omitted legitimacy from the initial definition (see Skocpol
1979, Tilly 1990, Shaw 1997).
territorialization of state power, through which each state strives to exercise exclusive
sovereignty over a delineated, self-enclosed geographical space; and, on the other, the
globalisation of the state form through which the entire globe is subdivided into a single
geographical grid composed of multiple, contiguous state territories.
However, this approach, quite illegitimately, assumes that sovereignty is a generic feature
of the state (Kostakopoulou 2002) and ignores a) the institutional incompleteness of the
capital relation whose survival critically depends on extra-economic support and
consequently b) the mutually constitutive, operationally autonomous, strategically
coordinated and structurally coupled interaction of polity, economy and civil society
(Jessop 1990).
To quote Poulantzas (1978: 106), who probably qualifies as the first critic of the
“ideologies of globalisation” (1975: 78):
Through the very movement by which it both marks out frontiers and unifies
national space, the State also turns beyond those frontiers towards an irreversible,
clearly demarcated space, which yet has no end or final horizon. In other words, it
seeks to expand markets, capital and territory. For to mark out frontiers involves
the possibility of redrawing them: there is no way of advancing in this spatial
matrix except along the road of homogenisation, assimilation and unification –
except through the demarcation of an interior that is always capable of being
extended ad infinitum. These frontiers therefore become established as frontiers
of the national territory only from the moment when capital and commodities are
in position to break through them.
Alternatively, adopting a definition of the state as a form-determined material
condensation of the balance of social forces implies that a) fixity of borders and time
horizons, and sovereignty are not generic features of the state, b) the state’s form, rather
than being pre-given or pre-determined by its (economic, political or social) functions, is
strategically selective and contingent on social struggles and c) the state’s form can
actually problematize its functions, that is, the form of the state can call into question its
effective operation (Jessop 1990, 2000).
As a strategically selective terrain the state can never be neutral among all social forces
and political projects; but any bias inscribed in its institutional materiality is tendential
and contingent and, thus, can be undermined or reinforced by appropriate strategies. This
implies that when we assess the capitalist character of the state we need to specify a) the
particular conditions deemed contingently necessary either for a specific accumulation
strategy and/or a particular regime of accumulation and its associated mode of regulation
and b) the changing balance of forces engaged in political action.
Moreover, the state forms have significant effects on the calculation of political interests
and strategies and thus on the composition of the dynamic of social forces. As a result it
is legitimate to assume that political forces would struggle to change them to their
advantage. For example, the “national”, “centralized”, “bureaucratic” or “corporatist”
form of the state might be an impediment for certain accumulation strategies, crisis
management technologies, or legitimation seeking mechanisms and, thus, to constitute
the object and the outcome of competing political projects.
Building upon that tradition in state theory, a growing body of research in political
geography (Smith 1993, K. Cox 1996, Brenner 1998, 1999a, b) and political economy
(Jessop 1999a, b, c, Boyer 2000) has suggested that rather than the erosion of the state
what we are currently experiencing is the rescaling and the territorial reconstruction of
the state’s powers and capacities. State rescaling involves a dialectic process of a) the
relativization of the national scale and b) the intensification of the role of both the suband supra-national forms of territorial organization. This research agenda explores the
state’s own role as a site, medium and agent of globalisation as well as the ways in which
this role is currently triggering a re-territorialization of the state itself.
In this literature, state rescaling has been identified as a neo-liberal accumulation strategy
of de- and re-regulation that, on the one hand, dismantles the nationally configured
redistributive operations of the Fordist-Keynesian order; and, on the other, it constructs
new institutional capacities for promoting capital investment within major growth poles,
through locally or regionally organized workfare policies, non-elected quangos and other
entrepreneurial activities (i.e. public-private partnerships) (Brenner 1998, 1999a). For
Robert Cox (1992: 30-1) this ongoing shift of the “internationalisation of the state”
signifies that adjustment to global competitiveness has become the new categorical
imperative. Others have supplemented the picture by viewing state rescaling as a crisis
displacement technique (Purcell 2002) and/or a governance enhancing strategy (Jessop
1999c). In Brenner’s (1999a: 440-1) formulation:
the current round of neo-liberal globalisation is re-scaling state territoriality rather
than eroding it: the de-nationalization of the national economy and urban
hierarchies is not undermining the state’s role as a form of territorialization of
capital but de-nationalizing its scalar structure to privilege supra- and sub-national
levels of regulatory intervention and capital valorisation. The resultant glocalized
regulatory institutions are re-territorializing state power onto multiple spatial
scales that don’t converge with one another on the national scale or constitute an
isomorphic, self-enclosed national totality.
D-policies and disciplinary parochialism
Such an appreciation of state restructuring renders any account of educational
restructuring in terms of D-policies disciplinary parochial (Dale 1994). The terms
decentralization / de-concentration / delegation / devolution as they are still used in the
education policy literature assume a centre and a periphery comprising a static, uniscalar, self-enclosed, politically sovereign, territorially bound, and functionally fixed
system (e.g. Brown 1990, McGinn 1992, Lauglo 1995). At best, this literature points to
the dynamics of “decentralized centralism” (Karlsen 2000) but retains the overall, closed,
two-dimensional and bi-polar system with power moving along a vertical axon. Starting
from these ontological and epistemological premises, educational researchers also assume
that what is currently at stake is the intra-systemic re-allocation of responsibilities and
functions: i.e. “the transfer of power from the state to elected bodies of regions and
departments” and/or “the devolution of power within the administrative structure of the
Ministry of Education from the Minister to appointed rectors, elected local authorities
and/or the head teachers” (i.e. Weidman 2001, Andreou 2001).
Such a problematic increasingly fails to capture broader dynamics and strategic shifts and
to account for the proliferation of scales, the multiplicity of supranational (WTO/GATS),
triadic (EU), or sub-national (local networks) actors, or the fluidity of functional (who
does what) and territorial (where does it happen) boundaries. In this schema the centre
and the periphery are confined to a single scale, the national, while the emergence of
other scalar configurations is, due to definitional fiat, ruled out. Finally, such a
perspective assumes that, within that supposedly closed system, both the agents and their
roles are relatively fixed and, consequently, it cannot accommodate the multiplicity of
actors and roles that the potential proliferation of scales might bring about.
The scale of social action, it is assumed, makes no difference to the regulation, provision
and governance of social activities and the implications of potential rescaling for power
relations and social struggles are never problematized. Finally, the mere possibility that it
can be the state itself that is being de-centred, relativized, de- and re-territorialized or
reconfigured is simply out of the question.
The politics of scale
Returning to the problematic of space, scale and territory we, following Harvey (1982),
would refer to scale as the socially and discursively constructed and contested “nested
layering of territories” (global, regional, national, sub-national and local); in other words
scale and territory refer, respectively, to the vertical and horizontal organization,
articulation, and regulation of space. Since scale, space and territory are socially
constructed and socially contested fields, they constitute the battleground of struggles
over social, political and economic hegemony. In Smith’s (1993: 101) formulation “scale
demarcates the sites of social contest, the object as well the resolution of the contest”.
Alluding to Poulantzas (1978: 98-107), both Soja (1989) and Harvey (1989) argue that
far from being a geographically fixed entity, space simultaneously constructs and is
constructed by the social division of labour, the institutional materiality of the state, and
the expressions of economic, political and ideological power. In fact, one of the principal
tasks of the state is to “locate power in the spaces which the bourgeoisie controls, and
dis-empower those spaces which oppositional movements have the greatest potentiality to
command”. To the extent that “any struggle to reconstitute power relations is a struggle
to reorganize their spatial bases” (Harvey 1989: 238), shifting or “jumping” scales (Smith
1993) constitutes alterations in the geometry of power (Massey 1993) and signifies
changes in class relations. For circumventing or dismantling historically entrenched
forms of territorial organization and their associated scalar morphologies transforms the
terrain of political struggle and the constitution of the hegemonic bloc (Robertson 2002,
Gough 2002). Harvey (1982: 423-4) writes:
Territorially based alliances can form at any of these [local, regional, national and
international] scales. But the nature and the politics of the alliance tend to alter,
sometimes quite dramatically, from one scale to another. Patterns of class and
factional struggle and of inter-territorial competition also shift. Issues that appear
fundamental at one scale disappear entirely from view at another; factions that are
active participants at one scale can fade from the scene or even change at another.
The politics of territorialization
As the political geography/economy literature has maintained, processes of state
rescaling, and of de-and re-territorialization are not technically and functionally neutral,
aiming to increased effectiveness, efficiency and democratic participation, but
strategically selective attempts to dis-embed the spatio-temporal fixes and institutional
frameworks that stabilize socio-political regimes and crystallize class compromises. In
other words, process of de- and re-territorialization refer to the dis-embedding of social
practices and their mode of regulation and governance from their previously perceived as
“natural” and “appropriate” scales and their re- embedding into other scales as spaces and
practices to be governed in accordance to new discourses and mandates (Gough 2002,
Jessop 1999 a, b, 2000, Robertson 2002). As Jessop (1999b: 37) argues
There are objective limits to economic globalization due to capital’s need not only
to disembed economic relations from their old social integument but also to reembed them into new supportive social relations. Indeed as Veltz has recently
argued, hard economic calculation increasingly rests on mobilizing soft social
resources, which are irreducible to the economic and resistant to such calculation.
It follows that this dialectical process prioritises certain fractions, classes and social
forces over others, certain interests and strategic projects over others, certain identities
over others and certain spatial and temporal horizons of action over others.
This de-traditionalization process assumes a dual and analytically distinct form: on the
level of system integration, we witness a process of social dis-and re-embeddedness; on
the level of social integration, a process of social de-and re-classification. The former
refers to the changing balance between and within the intra-societal spheres, to the search
for extra-economic forms that regularize the market economy and to the political and
social struggles over the dominant principle of societalization (Jessop 1990). This can be
seen in the increasing demand for other spheres of social life, on spatial scales from the
local to the triadic, to accept the ‘imperatives’ of ‘structural’ or ‘systemic’ competition,
(i.e. competition that goes beyond narrow economic criteria) to include wholesale
restructuring of any organization and institution that might bear on competitiveness
(Jessop 2001c).
On the other hand, the social de- and re-classification refers to the jettisoning of the
previous moral regime and status hierarchies and involves the re-negotiation of the
“appropriate” relation between rewards and legitimate aspirations. In short, this process
concerns the legitimacy of the relative rewards attached to the hierarchy of social
functions and the legitimacy of the allocation of individuals to positions within this
hierarchy (Lockwood 1992).
Both processes are projected on the re-negotiation over the appropriateness of the scalar
level of activities. For scalar hierarchies are social hierarchies in a dual sense: a) because
they are socially constructed, host social activities and constitute the strategic terrain of
power relations b) because they reflect social stratification and status hierarchies. As
Bourdieu (1977: 163) argued the symbolic ordering of space and time provides the
framework for experience through which we learn who or what we are in society.
The reason why submission to the collective rhythms is so rigorously demanded is
that the temporal forms or spatial structures structure not only the group’s
representation of the world but the group itself which orders itself in accordance
to this representation…. All divisions of the group are projected at every moment
into the spatio-temporal organization which assigns each category its place and
time: it is here that the fuzzy logic of practice works wonders in enabling the
group to achieve as much social and logical integration as is compatible with the
diversity imposed by the division of labour between the sexes, the ages and the
The dialectics of state rescaling: mapping change
These processes, inscribed within the overall shift from the Keynesian, Welfare, National
State to the Schumpeterian, Workfare, Post-National Regime (Jessop 1994 a, b, 1999c)
include a series of analytically distinct but empirically interrelated and often overlapping
changes. For the purposes of this paper we would focus on just two of them: the denationalization of statehood and the de-statization of politics (Jessop 1999d, 2000).
This means that the national state scale and mode of governance is being increasingly deprioritised both territorially, as more and more activities are now being transposed to
supra-national and sub-national scalar levels, and functionally, as more and more nonstate and/or non-political agents are involved in the production, distribution and
regulation of services previously rendered to be the sole responsibility of the national
The dialectics of de-nationalization and de-statization far from eliminating the role of the
state can actually generate an intensified national statism (Robertson 2002). For the state,
on the one hand, must be actively engaged in managing the process of glocalisation
(Swyngedouw 1996) and, on the other, it is the only political instance, which can prevent
a growing divergence between global market dynamics and the conditions for
institutional and social cohesion (Jessop 1994 a, 1999d).
In this context the mutually contradictory core problems of the capitalist states and their
education systems (accumulation, legitimation and social cohesion) (Dale 1982) are
intensified. For, as Dale (2002a: 2-3) has recently argued, national state education
systems, qua national and qua state, constitute a barrier to economic globalisation mainly
for two reasons:
The first is that, apart from guaranteeing the extra-economic conditions of capital
accumulation, they are the key institutions through which societal cohesion is achieved.
This refers to the sense of ‘national identity’, and appropriateness of the means
through which the outcomes and processes of distribution of prosperity are
achieved (for instance, conceptions of democratic process), and of how they relate
to and define who ‘we’ are. In this sense education systems are at the centre of the
national institutional configurations that represent the forces of social stability that
stand in the way of, if not necessarily in direct opposition to, the development of
the forces of social change, in the form of economic globalisation.
Secondly, because their extra economic and societal cohesion responsibilities tend to
maintain them in the ‘decommodified’ and resources-consuming sector, that lies outside
the ambit of free trade.
In this sense the contradictory demands posed upon the states and their educational
systems – the most national of all state institutions - are being intensified by, on the one
the increasing pressures driven by powerful national states and global actors like
the WTO/GATS to liberalize the market of education service (Sinclair 2000,
Robertson et al 2002) and,
the increasing pressures posed by triadic organizations and national governments
on national education systems to contribute to national and triadic systemic
competitiveness (Dale 1999, Jessop 2000, 2001b, Robertson 2002)
and, on the other hand,
by their decreasing technical and political capacity to ensure legitimation and
social cohesion through the provision of social services (Robertson & Dale 2002,
Purcell 2002) and
by their decreasing discursive capacity to secure societal cohesion by inculcating
notions such as national identity, democracy and citizenship that indirectly
stabilize and regularize the capitalist regimes of accumulation (Dale 2002a).
Finally, state rescaling as de-nationalization and de-statization triggers a series of
conflicts over “who does what and where”: for rescaling refers not only to the rearticulation of the scalar configuration but also to the re-organization of the hegemonic
bloc (R. Cox 1996, Panitch 1996). The multiplicity of scales and the multiplicity of actors
dismantle previously established hierarchies and alliances and new and past actors strive
over their position into the emerging social fix (Jenson 1990). For the processes of denationalization and de-statization are inimical to prior forms of identities like bureaucrat,
welfare professional or state functionary and modes and forms of interest representation
like corporatism and trade unions (Jessop 2000, Robertson 2000, 2002).
In fact, it is difficult to clearly distinguish between the two processes: although the denationalization tendency refers more to the scalar articulation of global governance and
the de-statization trend refers to the hybrid forms of domestic governance that are
emerging, what is left to be governed at the national or sub-national levels is very much
decided at the supra-national and the national level respectively. So, while the EU has
adopted the principle of subsidiarity rather than harmonization and thus the, for instance,
content of teaching remains a national responsibility, this does not apply to the vocational
training field (Dale & Robertson 2002). Hence, in France and Greece, despite being
persistently proposed, the involvement of private actors in the provision of education has
not yet been pursued; still, what both governments have pursued is the engagement of
business to the definition of training objectives and the provision of vocational training
(Cole 2001, Zambeta 2001).
This gives credit to the view that the emerging spatio-temporal fix is highly mediated by
the historical and institutional traditions that crystallize past struggles, sedimented modes
of operation and deeply embedded logics of appropriateness which are inscribed in the
institutional materiality of the state (Jessop 1990, 2001a). Despite the convergence in
discursive practices and the globalisation of policy shifts, actual institutional convergence
in particular policy fields is rather limited (Green 1999, Cole 2001). In fact, identical
discourses and policy orientations have been mediated by different triadic institutional
arrangements (i.e. subsidiarity in EU vs supersidiarity in NAFTA (Dale & Robertson
2002)), have been translated into still nationally distinct policy outcomes and have given
rise to nationally distinct counter discourses and forms of struggles (Cole 2001,
Athanasiades & Patramanis 2002).
Finally, the de-traditionalization process, the dislocation of the previously stable,
sedimented path and the introduction of new rules in the game – the articulation of a new
hegemonic discourse, set of practices and institutional forms – penetrate as an alien body
the social tissue. The violence of this penetration increases with the extent to which the
challenged arrangements are institutionally embedded. With increasing embeddedness,
existing arrangements are representing core rather than peripheral parts of (i.e. sectoral,
administrative, political) traditions, which are rooted in nationally specific societal
paradigms (Jenson 1990). For example, the extent to which (i.e. sectoral) styles and
structures represent core patterns of national (i.e. administrative) traditions depends on
their embeddedness into the general institutional context defined by the state tradition:
thus, institutional embeddedness is the higher the more sectoral/administrative
arrangements reflect the basic conception of the state (Knill 1998).
The dialectics of state rescaling: de-nationalization and de-statization
For the purposes of this paper we would confine state rescaling to the processes of
The de-nationalization of statehood: the dialectics of de-territorialization and reterritorialization of specific powers in the political system and the reshaping of
national states qua mutually exclusive, formally sovereign, spatially segmented
instantiations of the westphalian order;
The dialectics of de-statization and re-statization: the redefinition of the internal
demarcation within the institutional ensemble of political power (public- private)
and the re-allocation of activities across this division.
For Jessop the former involves the transfer of powers previously located at the national
territorial level upwards, downwards, or sideways, and the allocation of new powers to
different scales. In the era of Atlantic Fordism, the spatio-temporal coincidence of a
national economy, a national state, national citizenship3 and a national society was
predicated upon specific material and ideological foundations that naturalized the
primacy of the national scale in terms of economic and social governance. The current
de- and re-territorialization process can be described as the “hollowing out” of the
national state or, as the de-nationalization of statehood as old and new capacities are
being reorganized territorially and functionally on sub-national, national, supranational
This is accompanied with a movement of power upwards (to triadic or international
bodies), downwards (to regional or local states) and sideways (to cross-national alliances)
as state managers on different territorial scales attempt to enhance their operational
autonomies and strategic capacities. The result is, on the one hand, the loss in certain
respects of the de jure sovereignty of national states as rule- and /or decision making
powers are transferred upwards and the resulting rules bind national states; and, on the
other, the devolution of authority to subordinate levels of territorial organization (Jessop
1999a, c, d, 2000, 2001b).
This shift is strategically manifested in the transformation of a series of institutions and of
their interrelations (i.e. World Bank, EU and national governments) that comprise “the
3 It is beyond the scope of the paper to tackle this, by and large, Anglo-centric/Marshallian
conceptualization of citizenship that confines it to the welfare orientation of the state’s social policy.
kernel of a form of global governance”. Acting as a “collective capitalist state” this
institutional complex is set up by the leading capitalist states to provide the infrastructural support and institutional framework that is expected to meet the conditions of
capitalist reproduction (Dale &Robertson 2002).
Ceding national political capacity upwards is not, as it is often assumed, an enforced
process (Cerny 1997, Dale 1999). For instance, Simitis (2001:3), referring to the
“establishment of a new equilibrium following the setting up of the monetary union and
the single currency” maintains: “we are opposed to any idea of re-nationalizing policies
with the result of weakening economic and social cohesion in the EU”. In fact, he
proposes the
formulation of rules on a common course but within a logic of flexibility which
will permit different degrees of integration; a flexibility which will allow those
states which are willing and able to concede a larger share of their sovereign
choices to the integration project to proceed to more advanced stages of deepened
He concludes proposing a federal model for the EU that
permits the building of a “European sovereignty” in order to regain collectively
parts of the sovereignty that we are losing individually from deepening economic
interdependence and globalisation” (ibid: 7-8).
Thus, we see a proliferation of scales on which economic and social policy are pursued as
well as competing projects to re-unify inter-scalar articulation around a new primary
level. The Fordist top down paradigm with its large hierarchical structures is being
challenged by a new network paradigm that emphasizes partnerships, regulated selfregulation, the informal sector and decentralized context steering. This shift entails the
devolution of economic and social policy-making to the regional or local levels on the
grounds that policies intended to influence the micro-economic supply side and social
regeneration are best designed close to their sites of implementation (Jessop 1999c).
For instance, in the European Report on the Quality of School Education, issued by the
EU, one can read (EC 2001: 10)
The trend to devolve decision-making to school level is a high stakes political
strategy, the result is part of a lack of trust in the State’s capacity to respond
adequately to each and every need of an increasingly demanding population. It
has been argued that those most concerned with the outcome of a decision are in
the best position to take decisions which most directly affect them. In a sense,
decentralization is a means of taking the political debate on quality down to lower
levels of the education system…. Empowering stakeholders at lower levels means
making them more responsible for defining what they understand by quality in
education and giving them ‘ownership’ of their part in the education system.
De-nationalization politics in France: dis-embedding the Republican
Despite its supposedly imperative nature and its alleged democratic flavour, the denationalization of statehood has triggered stiff opposition. The so-called “Anglo-Saxon”
turn of several continental education systems over the last decade (van Zanten & Roberts
countermovement. In France, for instance, the oppositional forces have argued that far
from introducing any form of “empowerment” or “ownership”, the “Anglo-Saxon” shift
has actually been imposed on the prospective “stakeholders”:
The territorialisation of education policy is not a conquest by the local, but the
result of a national policy: it has been willed, defined, organised and put into
place by the State (Charlot 1994).
And far from being “the result of a lack of trust in the State’s capacity to respond
adequately to each and every need of an increasingly demanding population” it actually
violates deeply embedded institutional arrangements and social relations:
Decentralization and the new territory-based dynamics it induces, together with
the demand that each school develop its own school plan, appear as major, sudden
discontinuities in the contemporary history of French schooling; they break with
republican legitimacy (if not with reality itself), which posited that schooling
should be the same throughout the territory of France. (Charlot 1994: 208)
In fact, the oppositional discourse has equated the re-territorialization / localization of
educational governance with the dismantling of the republican tradition of the national
education system. This has led to deep suspicion of school autonomy on behalf of
teachers and academics that insist on respect for national rules and regulations over local
initiatives (Cole 2001).
However, if we are not careful about such territorializing of policy we could
surreptitiously move from adapting means and procedures to local specificities to
redefining national policy locally, to locally defining each school’s purposes and
programs, and finally - the ultimate distortion of the meaning of the single,
indivisible republican school - to the development of ethnically marked
community schools (Lelievre 2000: 9).
Lelievre is not alone in arguing that the localization of education is aiming at disembedding education from the wider set of social relations that regulated the national
state spatio-temporal fix. The French teacher unions took a similar stance maintaining:
“we must act because the future of the republican school is at stake” (protester from
SNES – National Union of Secondary Education, in Weidman 2001).
Moreover, Lelievre (2000: 7-8), expressing an opinion rather widespread amongst the
French teachers and the general public (see Amber 1996, Weidman 2001, Cole 2001),
argues that the fragmentation of the national education system can potentially lead to the
fragmentation of national unity and of the nation-state that education had managed to
establish. So, ultimately, the local is identified with the “private”, and the “particularity
of the civil society”, while the “national” with the “universal”, the “public space” and the
“domain of citizenship”.
What is specific above all to education “a la francaise’ as instituted by Napoleon,
Guizot, and Ferry, is the way it is inscribed in the political space. Schooling is at
the very heart of a political project concerning the social tie; it is the means by
which a public, national space is constructed…. French schooling, then, is a
matter first and foremost of the republican state and its logic, not of civil society
with its taking into account of particularisms and particular interests, however
legitimate these may otherwise appear…. that which unites must prevail over that
which divides; the logic of public interest, the public good, and of the nation must
prevail over the logic of civil society, the privateness of religion, cultural or ethnic
communities, business.
Of course one could argue that behind that theoretical and political fuss lie “conservative
circles” or “self interested forces” who are simply resisting change because of their
“myopic parochialism”, “populist nationalism” or “vested interests”. In fact, the
oppositional discourse has been, invariously, treated as an expression of a “reactive” and
“disruptive” search for identity (Albrow 1996) and has been attributed to the insecurity
that globalisation creates that leads to the formation of “resistant identities” and demands
for a return to religion and tradition (Castells 1997: 64).
A less normative approach, rather than resorting a behaviourism and structuralism, would
have probably traced the pervasiveness of the oppositional discourse to the specificities
of the hegemonic project of nation-building and state formation process4. Moreover, it
would have examined agents as reflexive, capable of reformulating within limits their
own identities and interests, and able to engage in strategic calculation about their current
situation. This involves examining how a given structure may privilege some actors,
some identities, some strategies, some actions over others, and the ways in which actors
account for this differential privileging through strategic context analysis when choosing
a course of action (Jessop 1996).
With particular reference to the evolution of citizenship and state- and nation- formation
in France, Brubaker (1992:1) writes:
In the French tradition the nation has been conceived in relation to the
institutional and territorial frame of the state. Revolutionary and Republican
definitions of statehood and citizenship – unitarist, universalist and secular –
reinforced what was already in the Ancien Regime an essentially political
understanding of nationhood. Yet while French nationhood is constituted by
political unity, it is centrally expressed in the striving for cultural unity. Political
inclusion has entailed cultural assimilation, for regional and cultural minorities
and immigrants alike.
According to Bouget and Brovelli (2002) the administrative institutions were the first
elements for the implementation of Republican ideals. The French Revolution had
reformed and confirmed the historical centralisation of the state administration, and
‘Jacobinism’ is linked with the victory of this worldview in the name of the public
4 Poulantzas (1978: 114-118) general comments are pertinent:
The State establishes the peculiar relationship between history and territory, between the spatial and the
temporal matrix. In fact, the modern nation makes possible the intersection of these matrices and thus
serves as their point of junction; the capitalist State marks out the frontiers when it constitutes what is
within (the people-nation) by homogenizing the before and the after of the content of this enclosure.
National unity or the modern unity thereby becomes historicity of a territory and territorialization of a
history - in short, a territorial national tradition concretised in the nation-state…Territory and history
crystallized by the State ratify the dominance of the bourgeois variant of spatio-temporal matrix over its
working-class variant; the dominance of bourgeois over working class historicity. But without being
reabsorbed into the State, working class history sets it seal on precisely the national aspect of the State. In
its institutional structure, the State is also the result of the national process of class struggle…Just like the
national culture, history or language the State is a strategic field ploughed from one end to the other by
working class and popular struggle and resistance.
interest. The implementation of Republican citizenship, from the Third Republic until
now, has been largely based on the schools, the ‘school of the Republic’, especially
primary and secondary schools. In the early 1880s the state created a public policy of
education, which has remained almost unchanged up to this day. Public education must
be (1) compulsory, (2) lay, (3) free of charge, and (4) state provided, regulated and
governed; for the state is perceived as the only neutral arbiter and guarantor of equality
and national unity (Amber 1996, Duclaud Williams 1996). Providing education as a
public good implies more than decommodifying it; it has also been a powerful instrument
for the spread of the ideology of Republican citizenship throughout the entire country.
This notion of political citizenship is far more embedded in the national-popular
consciousness than the current expression of social citizenship (Bouget & Brovelli 2002),
either in terms of Marshall’s conceptualization or in terms of the Scandinavian model of
universalistic welfare rights.
As far as teacher unions, as collective actors, are concerned, one has to bear in mind that
their power and the improvement of material and symbolic position of their members as
well as their political and educational ideas can be traced back to teachers alliance with
the Third Republic bloc and its centralizing Republican state (Duclaud Williams
1996:125). The public school teachers unions actually emerged during the struggle over
the transition from the Second Empire to the Third Republic (Amber 1985:28), a struggle
that involved dismantling the Ancien Regime and the power of the church. Not
surprisingly, schooling at that time was developed in part against what was “local”,
namely local monarchist notables and anti-republican clergymen aiming to establish a
public space, conceived as the space of citizenship (Bouget & Brovelli 2002). Among the
Third Republic strategies was to develop “a teaching corporation, designed to be free
from all “local” influences and the power of territorial, “horizontal” solidarities, so as to
privilege instead that which was “central”, the “vertical” solidarities of the teaching corps
and the disciplines” (Lelievre 2000: 7).
This critical juncture has marked the evolution of education and teachers’ unions: ever
since then not only has education been centralized and uniform but teachers’ unions have
also developed along the centralized, etatist and bureaucratic structures of the education
system and public administration, and have adopted a bureaucratic-professional identity
and a neo-corporatist form of policy-making. This is most evidently crystallized in the
mass membership of the union movement, the centralized form of collective bargaining,
which allows access to central policy-makers, and the extensive delegated administrative
powers in terms of salaries, promotions and working conditions (Amber 1985, 1996,
Duclaud Williams 1985, 1996, Cole 2001). In this context, centralization of the overall
public administration is not only perceived as the only means to preserve public service,
equality of opportunity and national standards (Gyomarch 1999, Clark 1998) but also as a
means to conserve the power and the unity of the teaching force (Amber 1996). Initially
inscribed into the hegemonic project of republicanism, the strategic orientation of the
unions to acquire, preserve and expand the national civil service status coupled with their
explicit socialist affiliations and the overall centralized, etatist and later Keynesian
institutional architecture of French politics, have actually been mutually reinforcing
processes. Novoa, referring to the French teacher but actually alluding to the situation in
other continental countries including Greece, writes:
In teaching, professionalization and bureaucratization are virtually synonymous:
becoming a professional teacher means acceding to the post of functionary in the
public administration” (Novoa 1987, in Bourdoncle & Robert 2000: 73).
In fact, primary schools teachers (instituteurs) in France acquired the status of the state
functionary like the secondary school teachers (professeurs) when in 1889 they began to
be paid by the state (Bourdoncle & Robert 2000: 74). The Greek teachers raised the same
demand in 1895 and they fully acquired the status of the civil servant only in 1920 when
the state took charge of their salaries and centralized their labour relations (Athanasiades
1999). In fact, the power of the unions is closely related to their national civil service
status and to the centralized structure of French and Greek education. The NUT, for
instance, has to deal with too many employees and works under too many different sets
of regulations to develop the national power of FEN or DOE/OLME5. Although
consulted by the government the NUT lacks the developed corporatist role of FEN and
DOE/OLME (Duclaud Williams 1985, 1996, Amber 1996, Athnasiades 2000, 2001,
Athnasiades & Patramanis 2001).
5 The primary and secondary teacher unions in Greece respectively.
British teachers are local government employees while their counterparts in France and
Greece national government employees. This scalar difference and spatial structures
reflect societal differences. In fact, being employed and paid by the central state is seen
as an indication of professionalism. Not surprisingly Greek teachers, when the PASOK
government in 1995 attempted to localize educational management and teachers’ labour
relations, unanimously replied: “There is no chance of turning us into local employees
and education into a local-problematic enterprise”.
As far as France is concerned, this attachment to centralisation seems to have been
reinforced a) by the mid 80s unfortunate experiences with decentralization and the
consequent weakening of their power and b) by the overall neo-liberal shift in the 90s and
has resulted in the return to the more “Manichean” perspectives of the 70s (Amber 1996,
Duclaud Williams 1996, Athanasiades & Patramanis 2001).
To ask teachers in France to accept the idea that diversity should prevail over
homogeneity and local concerns over general, central, or national ones is to go directly
counter to all their intellectual and historical references. In secondary education, very
much like Greece, professional identity is constructed above all on the basis of
knowledge of one’ s discipline - knowledge understood as universal (Bourcolet & Robert
2000). For the primary level, history recounts that schoolteachers won their dignity by
allying themselves with the centralizing republican state against local powers and
notables - the state as the bearer of the universality of civilization - against the privileges
of the Ancien Regime and local particularisms. Teachers, thus, receive the government’s
official directives and discourse as a demand for radical identity and cultural
transformation. It is no wonder that they react with incomprehension and amazement, and
that, having been asked to invert what is for them the very meaning and sense of the
tradition of French schooling, their responses range from passivity to resistance
(Weidman 2001, Cole 2001, Amber 1996).
The dialectics of de-statization and re-statization
This involves the re-allocation of functions across the internal demarcation between
public and private responsibilities within each territorialized political system and can be
described as a shift from government to governance. The de-statization of politics would
include a shift from the centrality of government to more localized forms of governance
where the formerly sovereign national state is assuming a primus inter pares role. In this
case the emphasis shifts from the primacy of the state in compensating for market
failures, securing state-sponsored economic and social projects and political hegemony to
more multi-tiered, networked, partnership-based economic, political and social
governance mechanisms, like public-private and/or local contractual partnerships. In the
emerging governance paradigm, the state, rather than directly providing, funding and
regulating social services, seeks to design governance mechanisms and to politically
organize the self-organization of the network of governmental, supra-governmental and
para-governmental agents.
Resort to governance far from eliminating state power enhances the state’s capacity to
project its influence and secure its objectives a) by mobilizing knowledge, surveillance
capacity and power resources and b) by incorporating into the state project a wide variety
of influential non-governmental agencies, partners and stakeholders. The turn to
governance could also be part of a more complex power struggle to protect decisions
from popular-democratic control and to dismantle corporatist arrangements that during
the previous institutional fix constituted a major channel of interest intermediation. In
fact, the state retains responsibility not for the oversight of the governance mechanisms
but also for the overall balance of class forces and the maintenance of social cohesion
(Jessop 1999a, b, c, 2000).
Third Way-ism revisionisms
This shift is ideologically crystallized in the dominant form of revisionism in the “era of
globalisation”: Third Way-ism. This “re-vision” comprises a new role for the state,
(active and strategic, catalyst and facilitator – steering not rowing) - which can
simultaneously serve capital (by making the penetration of markets to old and new
domains more effective) or act as a market actor itself by assuming a quasi-enterprise
form; restructure education and welfare as social infrastructures of “progressive
competitiveness”; and forge a “synergistic” alliance with “civil society” (Cerny 1997,
Panitch 1996, 2000, Ehkre 2000).
In fact, as Dale (1999: 4) argues,
the clearest effects of globalization on education policy come from the
consequences of states’ reorganization of their priorities to make them more
competitive…The key characteristic of the competition state is that it prioritizes
the economic dimension of its activities above all others.
This shift essentially makes international competitiveness the dominant criterion of state
policy making and contractualism the dominant source of administrative bias and
structural capacities (Robertson & Dale 2000).
Developed as an internal critique of both “the corporatist state-led capitalism of
conventional social democracy” and “neo-liberalism”, Third Way-ism at different scales
and under different labels has become the ideological and political banner of the 1990s.
At the global level it appears under the umbrella of the post-Washington consensus6; at
the European level it is called the European social model7; and at the national level, it is
variously labelled, Third Way, New Centre, New Deal, or Modernization being just some
of them (Giddens 2001).
Contra neo-liberalism, Third Way-ism is not confined to the removal of all structures and
institutions that generate “rigidities” to the functioning of both the state and the market by
suppressing competition, possessive individualism and enterprise culture or by allowing
citizens to constraint and/or construct state projects. It also strives to establish structures
6 Stiglitz (1998): The new agenda [for development]…sees government and markets as complements rather
than substitutes. It takes as dogma neither that markets by themselves will ensure desirable outcomes nor
that the absence of a market, or some related market failure, requires government to assume responsibility
for the activity. It often does not even ask whether a particular activity should be in the public or the private
sector. Rather, in some circumstances the new agenda sees government as helping to create markets … In
other areas (such as education), it sees the government and the private sector working together as partners,
each with its own responsibilities. The development agenda for the twenty-first century includes a wider
set of objectives than those of the past. It includes a changing role for the state — with a partnership
between government and the private sector — that involves a catalytic function for government in helping
to create markets. In some areas, it includes a more enduring role for government in regulating markets.
And it requires governments to improve their own performance, partly by making more extensive use of
market-like mechanisms through using and helping to create competition wherever it can.
7 At the Lisbon European Council’s Presidency Conclusions (2000) one can read: Achieving the new
strategic goal [to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge economy in the world, capable of
sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion] will rely primarily on
the private sector as well as on public-private partnerships. It will depend on mobilizing the resources
available on the markets as well as on efforts by Member States. The Union’s role is to act as a catalyst in
this process, by establishing an effective framework for mobilizing all available resources for the transition
to the knowledge-based economy (para 41)…A fully decentralized approach will be applied in line with the
principle of subsidiarity in which the Union, the Member States, the regional and local levels, as well as the
social partners and civil society will be actively involved using variable forms of partnership (para 38).
that facilitate the flexibility of product, capital, service and labour markets by removing
the barriers to competition and disaggregating the private and the public sector 8 and b)
the development of a positive climate of entrepreneurial independence, self-reliance and
initiative9. While adopting the neo-liberal critique of the Keynesian, Welfare, National
State (KWNS) as being “part of the problem” on the grounds that it is a rigid,
overprotective, bureaucratic, corporatist structure that hinders innovation, creativity,
enterprise, flexibility, adaptability, responsibility, and the development of an active civil
society, it also stresses the indispensable role of politics in the construction of markets
and market supporting institutional arrangements and modes of governance (Giddens
1998, 2000; Blair & Schroder 1999, PASOK 1999, Blair&Simitis 2001). In this case
restructuring is not confined to dis-embedding the past institutional architecture but
extends to establishing structures conducive to the development of “common norms of
conduct” and compatible with the new mode of development and economic/political
regulation in the era of “reflexive modernization”(Ehkre 2000, Jessop 1999c).
The new mode of state intervention increases both the range of stakeholders/partners
whose cooperation is required for a successful state project and the pressures within the
state to create new subjects to act as its partners. Thus states are now trying to transform
the identities, interests, capacities, rights, and responsibilities of economic and social
forces so that they become more flexible, capable, and reliable agents of the state's new
economic strategies – whether in partnership with the state and/or with each other or as
autonomous entrepreneurial subjects in the new knowledge-driven economy (Rose 1996,
Jessop 1999c, 2000).
This “synergetic” approach stresses the complementarity of the state, the market and the
community as a hybrid mode of social and economic governance. Still, a moment’s
thought shows that the articulation of the state, the market and the community as modes
of coordinating social activities hardly constitutes a new phenomenon. For it is hard to
8 Many business firms have reformed themselves in recent years but not by making themselves like
markets. The most effective firms have bureaucratized, looked for the benchmarking of standards and have
accorded greater autonomy in decision-making to lower levels of organization. Governments should seek to
achieve similar results within their own agencies (Giddens 1998).
9 Third way economic policy needs to concern itself with different priorities-with education, incentives,
entrepreneurial culture, flexibility, devolution and the cultivation of social capital. Government is helping
create the conditions that encourage entrepreneurship a phenomenon that again concerns not only private
industry but the state and civil society too (Giddens 1998).
find a single system totally funded, regulated and provided by any of the three
coordinating mechanisms. What is new is the re-articulation of these institutional spheres
and their internal boundaries shifting (Dale 1997).
If partnerships provide the emerging form of governance, the principles of New Public
Management are providing its content. NPM has, over the last decade, acquired the status
of the dominant paradigm in public sector management (Pollitt 1993, Hood 1995 a, b
Guyomarch 1999). The paradigmatic imperialism of NMP is manifested in the
universalistic and isomorphistic approach to all social services, including education
(Clarke & Newman 1997, Clarke et al 2000). Its basis is the lessening or the removal of
differences between the public and private sectors by shifting the emphasis from process
accountability towards a greater element of accountability in terms of results (Hood
1995b: 94). The key elements of NPM would among others include: disaggregation of
public organizations; greater competition between public-sector organizations as well as
between public and private; greater use of private-sector management practices; a move
towards explicit and measurable standards of performance and attempts to control public
organizations according to preset output measures.
This “competitive contractualism” approach (Dale & Robertson 1997, Robertson & Dale
2000) shapes the Third Way-ist agenda for education policy. For instance, the Reiffers
report (1996) issued by the European Commission writes:
Today, many take the view that the era of school based education is coming to a
close. This will liberate educational process and will place more control in the
hands of those providers that are more innovative than traditional education
structures (para 155).
The natural resistance of the traditional public system will need to be overcome
by a combination of encouragement, goals, resources, consumer orientation and
competition from the private sector (para 166).
On the Concrete Future Objectives of Education Systems (2001) an EU document one
can read about decentralization:
The trend towards [decentralization] is very general within the EU. Greater
freedom for leaders enables them to have a different sort of partnership with
public authorities, not just bilateral but multilateral, embracing not only other
actors in the education or training system (such as universities or teacher training
colleges, or other schools) but also private bodies such as businesses. Removing
the barriers to such partnerships can be a fruitful way of enabling education and
training institutions to make the best use of all the resources—financial and
human capital as well as social capital—which are available to them (para 30).
Moving to the national level, according to the Plan de modernisation du service public de
l’éducation nationale issued in 199110 the state has to become a strategic partner rather
than a despotic force:
The time [for the central government] to manage everything, control everything,
is over’; ‘in future the administration must initiate, stimulate, provide coherence,
contract out, evaluate.
The report proposed
to increase the spaces of responsibility at every level of the system, giving to the
various decision-makers the possibility of implementing real choices in the
framework of broad national objectives’ (quoted in Charlot 1994: 36).
It was not before long that Allegre, using the rhetoric of proximity, of adaptation to local
needs and of participation, publicly made his intention to cut “the fat from the mammoth”
(Weidman 2001) and to turn schools into ‘enterprises’, which must know how to ‘sell
themselves’ and be ‘well managed’ as an object of partnership between local businesses
and local authorities. This was translated in the introduction of such NPM features as
governance by agencies and management by objectives, evaluation and contractualization
(Hatcher & Leblond 2001, Cole 2001), which, in view of the EMU, were (re-)advocated
as a necessary modernization of the overall public administration system (Clark 1998,
Guyomarch 1999) 11.
10 The “administrative modernization” became a major strand of public policy in 1989, during the
premiership of Michel Rocard, under the label of ‘public service renewal’. But it was preceded by a
discourse of modernization, which can be traced back to 1983, when, faced with an unsustainable trade
deficit, the then Socialist government abandoned national developmentalism and imposed a policy of
economic and fiscal austerity (Clark 1998).
11 The “administrative deconcentration” belongs to a new, ‘reconstructionist’ phase of modernization
policy dedicated to strengthening the strategic capability of the local state. The 1992 deconcentration law
created a presumption in favour of allocating tasks to local administration, that is a principle of subsidiarity
(Bell 1995). The legislation sought to strengthen the regional prefect’s capacity to co-ordinate crosssectoral policies at the local level, through the organizational device of ‘poles of competence’. ‘Reform of
the state’, the substitution of contracts or semi-contracts for what were previously hierarchical relationships
between the central and deconcentrated parts of the civil service, became the centerpiece of the Right’s
administrative modernization policy (Clark 1998). In 1995 Juppe prescribed a number of structural changes
and a time-scale for their implementation, including the merger of some field services and the
contractualization of the relations between central ministries and their territorial services, initially in the
form of a number of experimental ‘service contracts’. One of the stated objectives of the circular was to
This shift doesn’t imply any convergence to a UK-like NPM but retains its distinct
French flavour. In fact, the historical and institutional traditions have played a key role in
framing the available pathways of governance and have provided the raw material for the
counter-hegemonic discourses. For the breakdown of the old path doesn’t result in the
creation of an absolute void. Institutional forms remain intact and these remnants of the
former path still tend to shape policy output by affecting, in a selective manner, the path
shaping strategies. There is a historically determined repertoire that key agents can draw
upon. For instance, the discursive pool is constrained by the inherited value system and
the frames of meaning which define the legitimate scope, means and ends within
particular policy fields; or the institutional heritage allows for a limited range of options
in terms of resources, institutional forms and modes of calculation and governance. This
implies that certain options are ruled out completely while others are modified by
structural, institutional and discursive legacies that are nationally specific (Boyer 1997,
Torfing 1999, Radice 2000).
The de-statization of the politics of education: governance by agencies,
evaluation and contractualization in France
Despite the creation of agencies like EDUFRANCE12, the attempts met minimal
acceptance. The mainstream view remains that agencies are synonymous with the
privatization of educational management. They are also an affront to the corporate
transform the central ministries into holding companies, limited to the functions of policy setting, resource
allocation, monitoring and evaluation. The “de-bureaucratization” and policy evaluation strands of public
service renewal were also resumed, with a stipulation that new government decrees and legislative
proposals involving additional public expenditure are subject to ex ante cost-benefit analysis. On its return
to office in June 1997, the Jospin government has reaffirmed its commitment to the reconstructionist phase
of reform. In summary, the successive phases of ‘administrative modernization’ since 1989 have been
characterized by a broad continuity of policy, rather than by partisan differences between governments of
the Left and Right, though the most recent phase of reform has been marked by a more confrontational
relationship with the civil service trade unions (Guyomarch 1999). The discourse of administrative
modernization articulates a distinctive neo-statist set of values; the introduction of business-type
managerialism and a shift in the locus of intervention to the local level are devices for restoring the
threatened legitimacy of the state. The current, unfinished modernization agenda combines the following
elements: professionalization of internal management; de-bureaucratization and administrative
simplification as the means to achieve a user orientation; and structural reform of the state, which is seen as
the key to the more effective management of inter-organizational policy networks and to the re-imposition
of the necessary coherence of public action. In this sense, modernization policy symbolizes a shift of power
from the “centre” to the “periphery” of the French state (Clark 1998).
12 EDUFRANCE is an agency created to attract foreign students to France
identity of the French civil service and a threat to the equality and neutrality of the state.
Permanent civil servants rather than business people, as in the UK agencies, staff even
agencies such as EDUFRANCE, which are subject to overall ministerial oversight (Cole
The discourse of evaluation has made great strides in French education. However, the
idea to evaluate the performance of the academies on the basis of two- or three- year
agreed plans sound too OFSTED-like even to the national inspection corps who found
competitive bidding offensive to their corporate identity. At the school level, although
since 1995, the Education Ministry publishes league tables of school performance,
classifying schools both in relation to their absolute and value added performance no
clear linkage between evaluating performance and the allocation of resources has yet
been established (Cole 2001).
As far as contractualization, the centerpiece of Allegre’s reforms, actually dates from the
Jospin days in the ministry in 1989, and is directly linked to management by objects.
Between 1997 and 2000 two types of contracts were tried: between the ministry and the
regions and between the academies and individual schools. Still, these are neither legally
enforceable contracts nor mutually binding pledges, but rather they are more akin to
mission statements, setting out aims, objectives and means to achieve. And finally, they
don’t extend to external partners such as elected regions or parents. However, these
contractual procedures represent an organizational innovation in the context of the
Education Ministry. For the first time the academies are called upon to define their
annual objectives, to set out a method for achieving these and to allocate resources for
implementing goals from increasingly decentralized budgets. Within financial limits
imposed by the ministry, the academies are free to make policy choices and to adapt their
provision to specific regional needs and priorities. This allows, within broad national
criteria, for significant regional variation and initiative and has constituted rectorates as
genuine sub-national actors in French educational policy-making (Cole 2001).
In the minds of civil service modernizers these contracts represent a determined effort to
move away from traditional hierarchical forms and to innovate on the basis of new public
management techniques (Hatcher & Leblond 2001). Contracts are not limited to vertical
channels within the ministry. The procedure known as the contract of objectives was a
centrally aspired attempt to involve business more closely in the definition of the training
objectives. This has allowed for a more networked policy circle and has led to
negotiations (between the ministry, the elected regions and the “social partners”) and
considerable regional differentiations (Cole 2001).
These reforms were complemented by attempts to breach the national status of teachers
as civil servants and to localize their labour relations. Still this attempt provoked stiff
opposition for, as the unions argued, any further localization of staff management would
threaten conditions of service, teachers’ security of tenure and academic freedom. Again,
the Anglo-Saxon model of the local management of schools serves as a negative example
for French teachers (Weidman 2001). As Cole (2001: 719) argues, although overstating
the independence of UK agencies,
“English” governance does not export itself easily across the channel. Key
features of the NPM are alien to the French context. There are no powerful
agencies such as OFSTED that in practice operate independently from the
Education Ministry, no local management of schools, open enrolment and a
growing penetration of the public education service. The French state remains the
principal player in French education policy-making.
The French state, as any state indeed, consists not merely of a set of institutions but also
represents a core of beliefs and interests. Habits of centralized thinking remain strong.
National education traditions underpin norms and rules, as well as remaining deeply
embedded in the consciousness and the behaviour of actors. Powerful unions and civil
service corps form a coalition to bar the route to most English-style developments and
business actors are marginal to French education (as opposed to training). It is difficult to
identify private actors at work in the sphere of education: the core of state sovereignty.
Still, French-style governance is characterized by the rise of contractual relations, the
growth of partnerships, the embedding of political and administrative decentralization
and the slow penetration of new organizational ideas (Cole and John 2001).
This process has created a series of contradictions: for steering at a distance continually
clashes with the social demands for education as a public service and repoliticizes the
whole issue since only the state is accepted as a neutral arbiter and guarantor of equality
of opportunity. The polyarchical and centripetal tendencies that contractualization and
partnerships has introduced intensify national statism from both sides: a) from,
particularly primary, teachers who have been playing the guarantor of popular demands
since the interwar era (Amber 1996, Duclaud Williams 1996) and express their
resentment for school autonomy and local influence that are perceived as detrimental to
an idealized vision of uniformity within the education system and b) from the continuing
need to intervene so as to ensure the functionality of the system (Cole 2001).
In view of these changes, the oppositional discourse brought up and challenged a key
aspect of the reforms: the gradual withdrawal of the state and the increasing use of
partnerships and contracts as forms of “privatisation” and “commofidication”.
We are present at the progressive and conflictual transformation of the public
school into the liberal school. The State is disengaging itself, the school is
entering little by little into the logic of 'civil society' and the market, it is more and
more connected to the family and thus more and more permeated by social
inequality (Charlot, quoted in Hatcher & Leblond 2001).
For as Charlot argues, regarding the third prospective player in the new game, the local
The current territorialization of education policy is being conducted in the name
of increased democracy and/or efficiency: to territorialize, we are told, is to bring
decision-making closer to those directly concerned by it, to take into account the
multiplicity of actors and the complexity and interdependence of structures, to
facilitate the development of plural discourses. It is also to make decisions that
will be more effective because it is closer to the problems, better adapted to local
populations, more open to local initiatives. The local thus appears as a financial
resource, a lode of innovative thinking, the place where actors can mobilize and
intelligence will prevail with the state regulating this both upstream and
downstream. The discourses on democratization and efficiency, on social
modernity and modern management, thus converge around ideas of proximity and
initiative (Charlot 1994: 211).
In this case, the local is not juxtaposed to the national but to the state, the local
representing the “private” and the state the “public”. In the emerging mode of
societalization, the state, in the name of effectiveness and democracy, turns the local into
a financial resource, transforming it, in a Schumpeterian manner, from a transmission belt
and a non-economic condition, to the lode of innovative thinking and a node of “social
capital”. In this context the local community is recreated by the state as a partner or as an
autonomous, collective entrepreneurial subject that by mobilizing its “intelligence”, and
“initiative” is expected to become a factor of systemic competitiveness. In either case,
however, the local community is being reconstructed so as to function in an apparently
“synergetic” (Evans 1997, Weiss 1998) but actually in a “local state of emergency”
manner (Robertson and Dale 2002).
De-statization politics in Greece: still waiting for the sea of change?
In Greece, particularly since 1995, and the advent to power of the modernizing fraction of
PASOK, the institutional / administration / educational reforms have been acknowledged
as the most crucial requirement in the run to EMU/ESM and in the pursuit of the overall
modernization of the country (Spanou 1996, PASOK 1999, Zafiropoulos & Marantzides
2002). As the Congressional Theses of PASOK (1996:62) declared, the party is
committed to reform the public sector, that is, the “entire administrative apparatus at the
heart of which lies the corporatist and Keynesian core of the Third Republic”13. However,
this process implies the dislocation of the institutional architecture and the dismantling of
the hegemonic bloc that had allowed PASOK to gain power and to stabilize the postdictatorial era by satisfying the popular demands. As Moschonas (2001) observes,
PASOK’s abandonment, particularly after 1996, of the “macro-economic populism” for
an explicit neo-liberal set of policies, driven by the Europeanization process, has resulted
into conflict with the social groups that formerly constituted its traditional social base
(farmers, pensioners, teachers and workers in major industries).
As far as teachers are concerned, conflict revolves around four interrelated issues
(localization, remuneration, appointment, appraisal). These measures were advocated as a
necessary precondition for the overall modernization of the educational system and met
the strenuous resistance of the teachers’ unions. Between 1995 and 2000, DOE and
OLME clashed with the PASOK government on four successive occasions.
Initially, the unions fiercely opposed the “Anglo-Saxon” localization of the education
system that made provision for devolved budgets, per capital funding, parental choice,
the transferring of the ownership of schools and the governance of education to the local
13 The Third Republic refers to the historical period from 1974 to present. The first concerns the war of
independence (1821-1829) while the second the interwar era (1924-1935).
authorities and the localization of teachers labour relations. According to the MoE
Papandreou14 (1995)
The basic philosophy behind the reform is that the ministry must become a
strategic instrument while the school unit itself the decision-making center: school
units can be public without necessarily being owned by the state; they can belong
to the Local Authorities or to other local agencies. Students themselves would be
allowed to decide and eventually choose which school to attend.
The unions’ reactions were straightforward:
We declare our unequivocal opposition to the decentralization policies that hit the
Public, Free, and Unitary Education system. We reject any proposal that attempts
to turn the school units into local-problematic enterprises and intensify
educational inequality. We reject any measure that attacks our employment status,
our pension and social security rights (DOE/OLME 1995).
The reactions of the unions resonated the sentiments of the general public and combined
with the ubiquitous refusal on the part of the local authorities to assume responsibility for
education on the grounds that the government by devolving responsibility to the regional
level is actually devolving the financial and political burden that education carries with it,
lead the ministry to a specious fall back. Although the bill never reached the
parliamentary benches, the “Anglo-Saxon” turn created uneasiness among the teaching
body and de-stabilized the corporatist relations that the unions had built with PASOK
since the restoration of parliamentary democracy in 1974. (Athanasiades & Patramanis
2001, 2002).
In 1996, the unions went on strike for 13 and 55 days respectively, opposing the
introduction of a unified pay structure that imposed pay freezes and performance related
pay (PRP). Although they managed to repulse PRP, pay freezes were actually introduced
(Athansiades et al 2000)15.
G. Papandreou is son of A. Papandreou and grandson of G. Papandreou, both ex prime ministers of
Greece. He is currently Minister of the Exterior.
15 In a period when the taming of the inflation and the constraint of government deficit, in view of the
entrance to EMU, was the major priority, the treatment of wages as a “cost of production” rather than as a
“source of demand” is perfectly “justified”. Both the ND (1990-1993) and the PASOK (1993-present)
government were obliged to adopt a policy of replacing initially one out of every three and later out of
every five civil servants in order to satisfy the European Commission that Greece deserved further transfers
of its Convergence Funds (Featherstone 1998).
Following, the attempt by the government, in 1997-8, to replace the former egalitarian
appointment system16 with a competitive entry exams system led to the gradual escalation
of unions’ reactions from the traditional modes of protest - demonstrations and strikes - to
the most conflictual and tenuous confrontation between the State and the teachers’ unions
since their formation in the early 1920’s. Violent clashes between teachers and police
Special Forces for 5 days turned 30 cities in Greece into what the press called “gas
chambers” and “sites of atrocities”. The teachers were military defeated and the former
system was abolished (Athanasiades & Marantzides 2000, Athanasiades & Patramanis
In 1999-2000, the attempt by the Ministry of Education to implement a new appraisal
scheme that introduced external and internal appraisal, conducted by the Body of
Inspectors and school-based committees respectively, met the universal resistance of
head teachers who refused to collaborate. The measure became inactive, the Body of
Inspectors was never formed and the minister resigned (Athanasiades 2000, 2001).
The modernization circle is, finally, completed with a new bill passed in December 2001
that a) “de-concentrates” the system by subdividing it into 13 Regions controlled by 13
politically appointed Regional Educational Directors (REDs) who, within a broad
national framework, are assigned total responsibility for the totality of educational
provision in their Region and are directly accountable only to the minister of education
and b) introduces teacher and school units evaluation.
In this case, the union reactions have been rather modest: although the unions
“unequivocally reject the bill on the grounds that it doesn’t address the real problems of
the education system and clashes with the fundamental rights of teachers” (DOE 2001b),
in fact, tolerance rather than militancy characterizes their low key objections and nothing
brings in mind the military climate of 1995.
More particularly the unions reject the revised bill on the grounds that
not only does it not introduce any sort of “decentralization” of the education
system but on the contrary it envisages a new administrative structure that is more
centralized, more authoritarian and more dependent upon the partisan
commitments of the MoE. It initiates a new era of arbitrariness and non-
16 Epetirida: appointment lists conducted, after the graduation of teachers from Teaching Training Schools
and Colleges, according to seniority.
meritocracy that attacks the carrier prospects of teachers (tenure, promotions and
selection etc) (DOE 2001b).
It could be argued that the measures rather than constituting a decisive break with the
centralized, bureaucratic and etatist tradition of the Greek educational system, as it was
the case of the 1995 reform, complete and rationalize the pre-existing hierarchical,
“militarist” structure. Alternatively, it could be suggested that the unions managed to
repulse the “neo-liberal” assault and to restrict the policy options available to a
refinement of the system. Although it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions, we
find both views less than satisfactory: the former on the grounds that, apart from being
disciplinarily parochial, it is de-contextualized, fails to inscribe change into the strategic
orientation of the government and focuses on the bill rather than on the rationale that
informs it; the latter because it is utterly voluntaristic and implies that “it’s business as
As the French example testifies, breaking away from a deeply embedded institutional
legacy is a highly path dependent process and global institutional convergence still highly
unlikely. In short, to expect a UK-like change to take place before deciding that things
are rapidly changing fails to locate change in the particular institutional context and to
explore both the persistent tendencies and their potential limits. Although actual changes
have not been implemented yet, and the “decentralization” discourse has gone rather low
we find it hard to accept that, after the initial attempt in 1995, the government has fallen
back from its strategic orientation confining it to a refinement of the previous institutional
architecture17. In fact, ever since 1995 the government has persistently restated its
commitment to the “competitive contractualism” principles and to the restructuring of the
whole public sector on the basis of “concrete and measurable outcomes” by the
17 In fact, the term hardly appears both to all education policy documents published by the MoE between
1995 and 2001 and to the First (and only) Panhellenic Conference of the Educational Branch of PASOK
(1997) but also to its latest electoral programme (PASOK 1999). However, “decentralization” and “selforganization” is high on the agenda both of the party and of the government in all public administration
related documents (i.e. Makrydimitirs & Michalopoulos 2000). Taking into consideration that teachers are
civil servants and that public administration documents treat education isomorphically to other public
services one can appreciate the degree to which a) the fall back was a tactical movement and b) the
strategic orientation of the party is inscribed within the overall Third Way shift
introduction of “performance indicators, audits, benchmarking, and contracts of action”
(Quality in the Public Sector, 1998, PASOK 1999: 134) 18.
Furthermore, the government is committed to a “radical withdrawal of the interventionist
state from the provision of social services” and in fact, “has concentrated its forces on the
encouragement of autonomous action on the part of the citizens” through the “support for
social solidarity initiatives”, the “encouragement of NGOs activities”, the “enhancement
of innovative entrepreneurial initiatives” and “the involvement of the voluntary sector in
the policy consultation, formulation and implementation process”” (PASOK 1999: 138).
Within this context, the role of the REDs has been redefined. Although these posts are
still filled by civil servants, it would be naïve to assume that their roles would be
confined to the procedural, “transmission belt” like processing of the policies framed at
the national level, the “centre”. Very much like the case in France, the REDs are
increasingly assuming the status of key sub-national policy-makers with large amounts of
discretion. In the emerging networked policy style that runs through the whole public
The decentralisation of responsibilities to the regions and prefectures changes the
role of ministries and emphasises their function as centers for the strategic
planning and formulation of policy. The merging and suppression of public
entities, the reorganization of services, and the listing of publicly owned
companies in the Stock Exchange, all change drastically the functioning of the
state. Public administration services are gradually becoming an effective tool for
18 As one can read in the report Quality in the Public Sector “commissioned” by the Greek government
and published by the National Bank of Greece (1998: 707):
One of the basic differences between the public sector in Greece and the rest of the European countries is
the rigid separation between the public and the private sector…. The public sector doesn’t utilize nongovernmental institutions and is very reluctant to allocate its functions to intermediate agents, organizations
and even more to natural persons. Nowadays, however, activities that, were traditionally assigned to the
state, are increasingly exercised by intermediate agents… The boundaries between the state and the civil
society in terms of services provision are determined by the quality different providers can offer to the
Or, according to PASOK’s electoral programme (1999: 130):
The state is neither a dispensable mechanism to be withered away nor the indispensable complement to all
forms of social action and organization: it exists to enhance the initiative and the autonomy of the civil
society. Over the last few years the idea of the strategic state has become strong. The rivals of the strategic
state are the traditional structures of the hypertrophic state, which is centralized and, therefore,
dysfunctional and clientelist and opaque and, therefore, it either blocks progress or is authoritarian to the
shaping public policy and supervising its implementation (Greece in the
Information Society: Strategies and Actions (1999: 17))19.
Although the actual bill makes nothing but unambiguous reference to the duties and
responsibilities of the Regional Educational Directors, the minister of education is rather
To us, decentralization of education, namely its initial constitution regionally, is a
key requirement, which would, however, be meaningless if it was not part of a
larger decentralization scheme including the decentralization of educational
support….so that each region is entitled to its own policy-making according to its
own special requirements, and so that the concept exists ,at a local level, that we
adjust our educational policy according to the particularities we encounter in each
situation (Efthimiou 2001: 27, our translation).
Papaioannou (2001: 61), the Secretary of Studies, Training and Innovation in the
Ministry of Education is even more explicit:
The central administration can do no more than provide the basic necessities so
that the challenges of the knowledge-based society can be confronted with the
spontaneous mobilization and the self-organization of the school unit, which is
itself inscribed in the local community. We had but only one solution: to open
schools to local initiatives and this is what we are now doing (our translation).
Regional administration is capable of providing new modes of organization and
evaluation of human experience in an educational context of trust, sincerity,
flexibility, and mutual commitment on the part of all involved, where the greatest
reward for the educator lies in the interplay of ideas, dilemmas, new approaches
and determined steps towards knowledge.
In this context
it is for the good of the local community itself, which aspires to an open school, to
be actively involved in the resolution of the problems and the formation of the
future. Reference to a knowledge-based society implies the ability to confront the
future, to transform education in ways that nobody could have imagined yesterday
and that, by the day after tomorrow, will be obsolete.
19 The document was issued directly from the prime minister’s office and “presents the government’s main
priorities, individual actions and goals in all the sectors of the economy and society that jointly shape the
new environment”.
This approach constitutes a decisive break with the past, for what is actually at stake is
the de-prioritization of the central state as the sole, legitimate provider, regulator and
funder of education and the introduction to the policy-making panel of at least two new
actors: the REDs and the “local community” which can be seen as comprising both the
“voluntary sector” and other “private initiatives”. In fact, breaking a tradition of 120
years, the regional level is assigned the construction of 20% of the curriculum (Efthimiou
However, at least apparently, teacher unions (DOE 2001a) far from opposing the
localization20 of education policies actually appear to be supporting them 21. What they
don’t support and in fact perceive as a Trojan Horse is the involvement of agents other
than the central state22, on the one hand, and parents, students, teachers, on the other23. In
the rapidly changing context, the Local Authorities are perceived as “agents of
Article 14 of Law 2218/94 should be immediately modified and the clause that
allows Local Authorities to establish and maintain nursery schools should be
The imposition of local taxes for the funding of education and schooling violates
the constitutional mandate that makes provision for free and public education.
The teaching body expresses its opposition to the allocation of education of Greek
students abroad to the private sector or other non-governmental agents.
In fact, the unions defend the framework introduced by PASOK in 1985 that made
provision of a series of “institutions of popular participation” including the Prefectural or
20 The decentralization of the education system should focus a) on the redefinition of the curricula on the
basis of the current developments (knowledge and technological explosion and protection of the
environment) and b) on the harmonization of the curricula with the local diversities, the local history, the
local production and social relations and people’s needs.
21 Decentralization must not attack the unitary, public and free nature of education. On the contrary,
decentralization must be the barrier that would prevent the market forces from ripping off vital aspects of
the public education. This will lead a two-gears education system and to the intensification of educational
22 The Local And Regional Authorities should be refrained from intervening to the labour, social, pension
and social security rights of the teachers including anything that could potentially restrict their pedagogical
freedom and autonomy and would lead to relations of dependence and subordination.
It is imperative the MoE and the government to elucidate the boundaries of responsibility of the Regional
Authorities in the field of education and to ensure that a) the decentralization process would serve its
objectives, and b) the local authorities would not engage in arbitrary and degenerative interventions.
23 In this context the teachers’ councils should be the key instruments of the pedagogical-educational
action, the expression of the collective and participatory governance of the school unit.
Sub-Prefectural Education Committee, Municipal or Communal Education Committee,
School Council and School Committee24. Although, none of these “institutions” ever took
flesh and blood, this framework actually established the unions as the only, apart from the
MoE, policy-makers in the field of education.
Very much like the case of France, the corporatist arrangements that were introduced, not
only satisfied a long standing demand of teachers, who, since the interwar era, had been
struggling to participate in the administration and policy-making structures of the
education system (Athanasiades 1999) but also legitimated their involvement in the eyes
of the general public and upgraded their social status (Athanasiades and Patramanis
2001). In fact, teacher unions were one of the basic components of the “social bloc of
change” and became the key agent of the “democratization” (among others, of the
education) process that followed PASOK’s advent to power (Zambeta 2000: 70). In this
context, the abolition of the body of inspectors and the establishment of the “institutions
of popular participation” not only “democratized” the education system but also actually
loosened the authoritarian, bureaucratic statism that had plagued the system since the
interwar era and provided an aura of professionalism to teachers (Andreou &
Papakonstantinou 1994).
The post dictatorial discourse of PASOK that cemented the “social bloc of change” was a
mixture of a dependency theory driven third world nationalism (Sassoon 1996)
articulated with a Keynesian Statist economic and social policies of the Mitterand era
(Tsakalotos 1998) that stressed social emancipation, democratic consolidation, autocentric development and national independence. National independence gave a sense of
continuity by stressing the prolonged political dependency of “Greece” from the Ottoman
Empire, the Bavarian Monarchy, the local notables, the German occupation and the
Colonel’s dictatorship that had deprived the “people” from the benefits of auto-centric
state-led development that would have guaranteed democratic consolidation and social
emancipation. Actually, national independence epitomized the economic, political and
social emancipation of the Greek state from the “external” forces that had plagued the
country for 150 years. In fact the Right was supposed to be the political expression of the
24 It is imperative to activate all instruments of popular participation (Prefectural and Sub-Prefectural
Education Committee, Municipal or Communal Education Committee, School Council and School
comprador bourgeoisie that had been ruling the country for a century and a half and was
responsible for the economic, political and social underdevelopment of Greece25. Within
this framework “democratization” was associated with “modernization” (Spanou 1996)
and PASOK advocated a third road to socialism that would be distinct from social
democracy and real existing socialism (Kariotis 1992, Maravall 1997). The unions that
traditionally had a socialist or, during the post-civil war era, a center to left orientation,
something that was hardly acceptable by the regime, whole-heartedly joined the ranks of
PASOK and become one of the basic constituents. PASOK on its part satisfied most of
the demands of the unions and facilitated the establishment of corporatist structures that
privileged the unions as policy-makers, second only to the government. In this context
education would contribute to economic development through central planning, to
political development through popular participation and social development through the
consolidation of a culture of anti-authoritarianism.
These developments resonated with the strategic orientation of the unions (national civil
service), their political and ideological affiliations (socialist or social democratic) and
their relations with the state (corporatism). In fact, teachers perceived them as the
vindication of their 50 years of struggles.
Since their 11th General Assembly in 1928, the unions have adopted a certain self-image,
which became consolidated with the advent of PASOK to power:
Teachers and, more generally, civil servants, although hired by the State, retain all
their democratic rights…The teacher, not only as a citizen exercising his rights,
but as an educational worker, as the bearer and advocator of the needs of popular
education, as a defender of the popular demands for the improvement of
education, has the obligation to publicly criticize, either individually or
collectively, all the proposed educational measures and to enlighten the general
public (Teacher’s Tribune26 1928a: 2).
This resolution is important because for the first time teachers break away from the
corporate ideology for a more political/workerist one and crystallize their views over
their relations with the state as their employer. The teachers’ discourse stressed that they
are not functionaries of state education policy; on the contrary, both as organized labour
and individually, teachers, exercising their political rights as citizens, that cannot be
25 See the Declaration of the 3rd of September, the founding document of PASOK, in Spourdalakis (1988)
Teacher’s Tribune (TT) is the official journal of the Primary Teacher Federation of Greece
restricted by the occupational status, have both the right and the obligation to inform the
general public about educational issues and to mobilize their forces in defence of popular
demands (Athanasiades 1999). If the French unions are the guarantors of the republican
school their Greek counterparts are defending the democratic school.
Despite being the dominant discourse throughout the post-dictatorial era, such an
approach to the state-teachers relation was hardly accepted at the time. In fact, it was not
long before a conflict over the “administration of education”, ironically similar to the
current debate, occurred between the government and teachers. The genealogy of the
unions’ reactions can be traced back to that event.
Although teachers, since the turn of the century, had allied themselves with the liberal
forces that were pursuing a modernization/westernisation project against the local
notables, a project that actually involved the building of a centralized state, DOE opposed
the centralization tendencies of the government of the day on the grounds that they
“undermine the [liberal] educational reform” (TT 1929, 232: 1-2). Teachers, for the first
time in 1928-9, proposed “decentralization” (transfer of responsibilities from the central
to the peripheral and local levels), “self-organization” (participation of teachers in the
various administrative bodies) and “emancipation of primary from secondary education”
(inspectors at that time were all secondary school teachers, a situation that undermined
the status of primary teachers) (DOE 1929). Teachers’ demands and particularly that of
“self-organization” met the equivocal rejection on the part of the MoE G. Papandreou on
the grounds that a) “self-organization” would introduce partisanship into the
administration of education and b) “self-organization” constitutes the negation of the
state and a distortion of democracy.
It is simply impossible to recognize teachers the right to self-organization because
under these conditions, the state, the unitary, universal authority, the
consciousness of the general interest, would disintegrate (TT 1930a, 266: 4-5).
DOE (TT 1930c) replied that teachers rather than the state guarantee the fair
implementation of educational and professional rules and the conflict turned into a
political debate where two contrasting views over the nature of democracy and
educational governance were confronted. DOE was pursuing the democratic
decentralization of education advocating, the gradually majoritarian, teachers’
participation in the administrative bodies as the initial step towards the transition to the
control of education by teachers, parents and students.
The three [collective] actors that are devoid of rights, opinion, or participation in
education are the teachers, the parents and the students: education for them is
something external, alien and pre-determined, subject neither to objection nor to
debate. The state is the supreme and sole regulator of education: the supposed
representative of the general will, but in practice a dictator of the spirit. This is
why our education is anti-democratic and unfree. But we, teachers, being free
citizens in a democratic country and being the incarnation of popular rights, will
fight for a democratic education, the administration of which will be open to all
parents, students and teachers, because each one of them is a conscious and active
member of the community with obligations and duties and concomitantly rights to
determine according to their will their social life in its various expressions (TT
1928b, 196: 3-4).
Papandreou, on the other hand, advocated a centralized, hierarchical structure, the apex of
which was the state, the neutral arbiter of the civil society conflicts and the guarantor of
the general interest. “To rationalize and make the system more effective”, he also
proposed, “decentralization” or rather “de-concentration” and increased the number of
inspectors from 70 to 120 (TT 1930a, 266: 4-5). In this context, “de-concentration”
simply meant that the “state would be not only in the capital but everywhere”. DOE had
already replied that
such a state-led decentralization, no matter how extensive it will be, is
meaningless because it doesn’t resonate with the will of the people and the
teachers but only with the will of the state…For the popular educational will to be
heard, decentralization should be complemented by self-organization, ranging
from the lowest to the highest echelon (TT 1928, 196: 3-4)27.
This short historical excursus reveals the historical depth of the confrontation. It also
points to the fact that the unions perceive the state as the legitimate regulator of education
only to the extent that they participate in policy-making. Moreover, it indicates that the
form and functions of the state are the object and outcome of the balance of social forces
and that conflicts over “who does what and where” actually shape the political terrain of
power relations.
This is not an anachronism. His predecessor Gontikas also shared Papandreou’s perspectives and DOE
had been involved in a debate with the MoE as early as 1928. For DOE’s reply to Papandreou, along
similar lines, see TT (1930c, 268) “The bill on the administration of education”.
Still, this by no means implies that “history repeats itself” and that the current reform can
be seen as a repetition of the interwar conflict. Drawing historical analogies and
comparisons in a de-contextualized manner hardly constitutes a rigorous approach. For,
despite appearance, and despite the fact that the form and the functions of the state are
always the object and the outcome of social struggle, it would be a-historical to assume
that “the state to increase the functionality of the system and its control over it, deconcentrates it by introducing a sub-national layer controlled by functionaries”. The
simple reason is that the state of 1928-1930 is not the state of the 2002. If in 1928 what
were at stake were the industrialization and the westernisation project, and the
consolidation of liberal schooling, in 2002 the accumulation strategies and their mode of
regulation are different. The national-state fix is challenged and the national state scale
and mode of governance are increasingly de-prioritised: the accumulation functions are
increasingly delegated to the triadic level and national competitiveness is inscribed within
the overall framework of the EMU. The legitimation functions are retained by the
national level, the only that can invoke the national interest. The social cohesion
functions are delegated to the sub-national level, where the local community is expected
to “patch the safety net” and compensate for the growing disparities that the withdrawal
of the state will eventually create (Robertson & Dale 2002, Dale 2002b).
The re-articulation of the new scalar configuration is conducted at the supra-national
level by the institutions of global governance and at the national level by the network of
agencies under the supervision of the state. This path-dependent process would produce
different policy outcome and would be punctuated by different forms of struggle. Still, “it
is business as usual” arguments fail to see convergence by diversity and continuity into
discontinuity. Discourses and strategies would necessarily be both path-dependent and
path shaping.
What is currently at stake is a) the primacy of the national scale which is still taken for
granted and obstructs the exploration of de-nationalization tendencies and the b) the shift
from government to governance. To ignore the former and to interpret the latter as a
return to the past is simply myopic and self-deluded. For the former triggers the latter.
In this paper we problematized the D-policies as they are currently used by the education
governance literature on the grounds that by being myopically attached to the ontological
pre-given nature of the national scale fail to explore educational restructuring as it is
inscribed within the overall structural transformation of the state. We have suggested that
the concepts of decentralization etc conflate two distinct and overlapping changes: the denationalization of statehood and the de-statization of politics. Alternatively, we have
proposed a reading of the current educational restructuring that focuses on the
proliferation and multiplicity of scales and actors and to the emergent dynamics and
strategic shifts at the supra-, national- and sub-national scales. Finally, we have
concluded that the globalization of policy shifts, far from homogenizing everything, is
institutionally mediated and contested. In short, that the national level, being the
sedimented condensation of past hegemonic projects and struggles, what Poulantzas
(1978) once called the historicity of a territory and the territorialization of a history, still
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