The Social and Cognitive Mapping of the Hungarian Education Area

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Our analysis (Bajomi et al., 2007) provides a general overview of the institutionalized patterns of knowledge-policy relationships in the Hungarian education area, including a summary of findings for the research conducted between February 2007 and November 2007. In this research phase, the main actors and institutions of the Hungarian education area were described and analyzed in terms of the knowledge transfer mechanisms that connect them. Subsequently, we carried out a social and cognitive mapping of the national education policy area based on semi-structured interviews with the main actors and a data collection process on knowledge-gathering strategies at the personal and institutional level.

As a first step, we contextualized the findings in historical terms and pointed out the origins of path dependencies in the structuring of the education sector. The interdependence of education research and political regulation under the communist dictatorships and, subsequently, under the “soft” socialist regimes, are briefly discussed in this section. Finally, we examined the major landmarks and rearrangements in the division of regulatory powers in this area following the political transition, with special emphasis on emerging novel issues and new influential actors in the field.

As a second step, we examined the structural characteristics of the education policy area and the most significant forms through which knowledge travels and translates into political action. The role of the Ministry of Education and the creation of new institutions, such as the National Development Agency and the State Reform Committee, are discussed with regard to the restructuring of the education policy area. The activity of the National Institution for Public Education and the Center for Education Policy Analysis (active between 2003 and 2006) in the field of knowledge entrepreneurship is subsequently analyzed in the context of institutionalized channels of knowledge transfer. We then chose to cover scientific and practical knowledge, as the most influential forms of knowledge in education policy-making, and scrutinize the translation practices as well as the impact of international flows of knowledge.

We conclude by discussing the recent changes in the modes of regulation based on four aspects and by examining the changes that occurred as a result of their interplay. First, in terms of the disciplinary approaches influencing the policy-making process, the field has lately become multi-disciplinary as new disciplinary approaches gained prominence and the dominance of pedagogy faded away. At the same time, new actors emerged thereby rearranging the centers of political powers. Next, we highlighted the impact of the international flows of ideas and the role of supranational actors such as the OECD and the EU. Lastly, we discussed the recent changes in the financial context of educational policy-making caused by the arrival of the European development funds, underlining in particular how the availability of new research and development resources impacted the process as a whole. As a consequence of all these changes, it is argued that a shift in terms of regulatory methods occurred in the field, namely new, post-bureaucratic regulatory modes which have infiltrated the traditionally bureaucratic educational regulation process. Given the decentralized nature of the system and the weak responsibilities of the central administration in the decentralized setting, the penetration of knowledge-based regulatory tools inspired by new public management paradigms created new opportunities for the state to regain an indirect control over delegated competencies.

BAJOMI Iván, BERÉNYI Eszter & NEUMANN Eszter (2007), The Social and Cognitive Mapping of Policy. The Education Sector in Hungary, Report Orientation 1, Final Report, Knowandpol, www.knowandpol.be.

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