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Constructing the ‘Europe of Knowledge’? The role of ideas in the transformations of European Education Policy (1973-2010)

Cino Pagliarello, Marina (2017) Constructing the ‘Europe of Knowledge’? The role of ideas in the transformations of European Education Policy (1973-2010). PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.8s9z6b2rbr4p

Abstract

Since the launch of the Lisbon strategy in 2000, the European Union has significantly transformed its education policy under the umbrella notion of the ‘knowledge economy’. In particular, the dominant policy discourse links education to economic growth with the predominance of education as a pro-market policy over education as a policy aimed at social inclusion. In addition, the European Commission performs a more cognitive, normative and regulative role through the governance mode of the Open Method of Coordination and its monitoring mechanisms such as performance indicators and benchmarking. Although these changes have been acknowledged by the literature, the tendency of structural or institutional accounts has been to take them for granted or as inevitable. The purpose of this thesis is to provide a theoretically and empirically based analysis of the policy process of these transformations. By drawing upon ideational theories and by employing process tracing over a time frame of more than three decades, the thesis builds a three-stage theoretical argument to explore in a structured fashion how the consensus around specific ideas about the goals of European education policy was formed, which actors advocated it, and why it prevailed. The empirical material draws on original and confidential archival sources, primary sources, official EU documents, and few in-depth elite interviews. The findings show how a specific problem definition of education allowed the European Commission to strategically construct a specific education agenda around the notion of the knowledge economy, which also reflected the preferences of powerful economic actors within the European Union. However, the findings also suggest that the polysemantic concept of the idea of knowledge economy itself acted as coalition magnet by aggregating actors with diverging interests as well as reinforcing the power and interests of the actors advocating this idea. By looking at the political-economic causes of the transformations of education, this thesis adds new knowledge to the current EU education policy literature. In addition, the thesis contributes to the current debates on the role of ideas in shaping political outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Marina Cino Pagliarello
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Bartlett, Will and Monastiriotis, Vassilis and Kleine, Mareike
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3656

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