Reading Educational Reform with Actor Network Theory: Fluid spaces, otherings, and ambivalences

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Abstract

In considering two extended examples of educational reform efforts, this discussion traces relations that become visible through analytic approaches associated with actor-network theory (ANT). The strategy here is to present multiple readings of the two examples. The first reading adopts an ANT approach to follow ways that all actors—human and non-human entities, including the entity that is taken to be ‘educational reform’—are performed into being through the play of linkages among heterogeneous elements. Then, further readings focus not only on the material practices that become enacted and distributed, but also on the otherings that occur: the various fluid spaces and ambivalent belongings that create actor-network(s) but also escape them. For educational research, particularly in educational reform and policy, it is argued that ANT analyses are particularly useful to examine the complex enactments in these dynamics. That is, ANT can illuminate movements of ordering and disordering that occur through minute socio-material connections in educational interventions. ANT readings also can discern, within these attempts to order people and practices, the spaces of flux and instability that enable and protect alternate possibilities.

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