Recontextualising policy discourses: a Bernsteinian perspective on policy interpretation, translation, enactment

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Singh, Parlo
Thomas, Sue
Harris, Jessica
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2013
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Abstract

This paper contributes to critical policy research by theorising one aspect of policy enactment, the meaning making work of a cohort of mid-level policy actors. Specifically, we propose that Basil Bernstein's work on the structuring of pedagogic discourse, in particular, the concept of recontextualisation, may add to understandings of the policy work of interpretation and translation. Recontextualisation refers to the relational processes of selecting and moving knowledge from one context to another, as well as to the distinctive re-organisation of knowledge as an instructional and regulative or moral discourse. Processes of recontextualisation necessitate an analysis of power and control relations, and therefore add to the Foucauldian theorisations of power that currently dominate the critical policy literature. A process of code elaboration (decoding and recoding) takes place in various recontextualising agencies, responsible for the production of professional development materials, teaching guidelines and curriculum resources. We propose that mid-level policy actors are crucial to the work of policy interpretation and translation because they are engaged in elaborating the condensed codes of policy texts to an imagined logic of teachers' practical work. To illustrate our theoretical points we draw on data; collected for an Australian research project on the accounts of mid-level policy actors responsible for the interpretation of child protection and safety policies for staff in Queensland schools.

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Journal of Education Policy

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28

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4

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© 2013 Taylor and Francis. This is an electronic version of an article published in Journal of Education Policy, Volume 28, Issue 4, 2013, Pages 465-480. Journal of Education Policy is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com with the open URL of your article.

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Education systems

Primary education

Specialist studies in education

Educational administration, management and leadership

Policy and administration

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