The direct-democratic challenge to evidence-based policy making: Questioning the governmental PISA narrative in Swiss school policy

Schlaufer, Caroline (July 2015). The direct-democratic challenge to evidence-based policy making: Questioning the governmental PISA narrative in Swiss school policy (Unpublished). In: International Conference on Public Policy ICPP. Milano. July 2015.

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The democratic deficit of evidence-based policymaking and the little attention the approach pays to values and norms have repeatedly been criticized. This article argues that direct-democratic campaigns may provide an arena for citizens and stakeholders to debate the belief systems inherent to evidence. The study is based on a narrative analysis of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) reports, as well as of newspaper coverage and governmental information referring to PISA in Swiss direct-democratic campaigns on a variety of school policy issues. The findings show that PISA reports are discursive instruments rather than ‘objective evidence’. The reports promote a narrative of economic progress through educational evidence that is adopted without scrutiny by governmental coalitions in direct-democratic campaigns to justify school policy reforms. Yet, the dominant PISA narrative is contested in two counter-narratives, one endorsed by numerous citizens, the other by a group of experts. These counter-narratives question how PISA is used by an ‘expertocracy’ to prescribe reforms, as well as the performance ideology inherent to. Overall, these findings suggest that direct-democratic campaigns may make more transparent how evidence is produced and used according to existing belief systems. Evidence, on the other hand, may be a stimulus for democratic discourse by feeding the debate with potential policy problems and solution. Thus, direct-democratic debates may reconcile normative positions of citizens with the desire to base decisions on empirical evidence.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

11 Centers of Competence > Center of Comptetence for Public Management (KPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Schlaufer, Caroline

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 350 Public administration & military science
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 370 Education

Language:

English

Submitter:

Caroline Lea Schlaufer

Date Deposited:

24 Nov 2015 09:28

Last Modified:

24 Nov 2015 09:28

Uncontrolled Keywords:

evidence-based policy making; direct democracy; narratives; PISA; education policy

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/72900

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