Embedded concepts: comparative analysis of the meaning of education policies
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education policy,
national context

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Dunajeva, J., & Siarova, H. (2023). Embedded concepts: comparative analysis of the meaning of education policies. Przegląd Krytyczny, 5(2), 15–32. https://doi.org/10.14746/pk.2023.5.2.2


The study demonstrates that the definition and meaning of education, and by extension of educational inequality, are embedded in countries’ historical, political and social environments while responding to exogenous changes and international trends. We comparatively discuss the experience of 4 countries (Norway, Finland, Lithuania and Hungary) to unpack the historical underpinnings of how education is framed in policy documents. Building on that, we review the effects of neoliberal ideas with their universalist dogma that have affected policy making in all cases and assess to what extent the meaning of education was decoupled from its historical framework. Our findings are relevant for understanding not only the process of policy change but, in particular, how the meaning of concepts within educational policy changes over time. We suggest that embedded concepts carry meaning that has evolved over time and become strongly entangled with the country’s history and culture while prevailing ideologies (neoliberalism and, in the case of Hungary, neoconservatism) also generate considerable effects on education policies.

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This article is based on the mapping of data collected in the framework of the PIONEERED project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme [grant agreement no. 101004392]. The content provided in this paper reflects the authors’ views only. Neither the Research Executive Agency (REA), nor the European Commission, nor the Public Policy and Management Institute (PPMI) are responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. The authors are grateful to all researchers who contributed to the deliverables within the PIONEERED project that have served as the invaluable foundation for this paper.


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