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Does deliberation matter?: the impact of the Bologna process on attitudes and policies in European higher education

Hoareau, Cécile (2009) Does deliberation matter?: the impact of the Bologna process on attitudes and policies in European higher education. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This research analyses the impact of deliberative governance mechanisms on policy reforms. This mode of governance involves the direct participation of state and non-state actors in meetings, during which participants are open to the exchange of arguments about a particular policy space and to reaching an agreement which can be non-binding. This research develops the theoretical claim that deliberative governance has a significant impact on the cognitive aspect of domestic policies and in particular individual attitudes. It focuses on the Bologna process that has been at the heart of European-wide reforms of higher education and investigates three aspects. First, a survey of participants in the Bologna process shows how their attitudes have changed. Secondly, case studies of the Sorbonne and Bologna agreements of the 25th of May 1998 and the 19th of June 1999 investigate how those changes of attitudes and policies fit participants’ interests. Thirdly, a comparison between reforms in England and France (mid-1980s-2007) discusses how changes of attitudes relate to domestic policy changes. The study explores two mechanisms that have been widely held to facilitate reforms, namely ‘learning’ and ‘strategic use’. The study finds that participants are open to changing their perceptions and receiving information on policy options in deliberations if it fits their interests. Deliberations also help diffuse paradigms which facilitate domestic reforms. More importantly, deliberative governance obeys a certain hierarchy when influencing individual attitudes. It starts by changing the most instrumental attitudes. However, all attitudes are connected, leading to a spiralling effect toward attitude change concerning more fundamental domestic reforms. Deliberative governance therefore has the potential to create some convergence in certain policy areas. This research contributes to the relevant European integration literature on deliberative governance and policy change by drawing on theoretical insights from the wide literature on cognitive theories. It also adds to the specialist field of studies concerning the European higher education area.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2009 Cécile Hoareau
Library of Congress subject classification: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Lodge, Martin

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