1st Edition

Governing by Numbers Education, governance, and the tyranny of numbers

Edited By Stephen J. Ball Copyright 2017
    174 Pages
    by Routledge

    174 Pages
    by Routledge

    Social science researchers have become increasing attentive to the role of numbers in contemporary life. Issues around big data, national test results, and output and performance statistics are now routinely reported and debated in the media. Numbers are a powerful resource for governments as a means to manage and ‘improve’ their populations, and we are increasingly represented, organized and driven by an economy of numbers, which inserts itself into more and more aspects of our lives.

    This book critically addresses some of the ways in which numbers are deployed in educational governance and practice, and some of the consequences of this deployment for what it means to be educated, to teach, and to learn. Recognising that numbers do not simply represent, but that they change things and have real effects, allows us to move beyond a system where difficult and important issues about what we want from education and from teachers are side-stepped in the push to ‘improve our numbers’. This collection offers a set of starting points from which we might speak back to numbers, drawing on research to explore how numbers change the way we think about ourselves and what we do. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Education Policy.

    Introduction: Education, governance and the tyranny of numbers Stephen J. Ball

    1. The ‘datafication’ of early years pedagogy: ‘if the teaching is good, the data should be good and if there’s bad teaching, there is bad data’ Guy Roberts-Holmes

    2. Elastic numbers: national examinations data as a technology of government Nelli Piattoeva

    3. A logic of enumeration: the nature and effects of national literacy and numeracy testing in Australia Ian Hardy

    4. Performativity and pedagogising knowledge: globalising educational policy formation, dissemination and enactment Parlo Singh

    5. International rankings and the contest for university hegemony Imanol Ordorika and Marion Lloyd

    6. Evaluation policy in education: the effects of international standards and performativity on Brazil’s postgraduate programmes of excellence Regina Célia Linhares Hostins

    7. State school inspection policy in Norway and Sweden (2002–2012): a reconfiguration of governing modes? Jeffrey Brooks Hall and Kirsten Sivesind


    Stephen J. Ball is the Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology of Education at the Institute of Education, University College London, UK. He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2006, and is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He is the co-founder and Managing Editor of the Journal of Education Policy. His main areas of interest are in sociologically informed education policy analysis and the relationships between education, education policy, and social class. His books include How Schools do Policy (with Meg Maguire and Annette Braun, 2012), Global Education Inc. (2012), Networks, New Governance and Education (with Carolina Junemann, 2012), and Foucault, Power and Education (2013).