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Discourse Formation in Comparative Education

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Edited By Jürgen Schriewer and Jürgen K. Schriewer

New theories and theory-based methodological approaches have found their way into Comparative Education – just as into Comparative Social Science more generally – in increasing number in the recent past. The essays of this volume express and critically discuss quite a range of these positions such as, inter alia, the theory of self-organizing social systems and the morphogenetic approach; the theory of long waves in economic development and world-systems analysis; historical sociology and the sociology of knowledge; as well as critical hermeneutics and post-modernist theorizing. With reference to such theories and approaches, the chapters – written by scholars from Europe, the USA and Australia – outline alternative research agendas for the comparative study of the social and educational fabric of the modern world. In so doing, they also expound frames of reference for re-considering the intellectual shaping, or Discourse Formation, of Comparative Education as a field of study.

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I Historicizing Comparative Methodology

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Comparative Education Methodology in Transition 3 COMPARATIVE EDUCATION METHODOLOGY IN TRANSITION: TOWARDS A SCIENCE OF COMPLEXITY ? Jürgen Schriewer One of the central claims – if not the central claim – of comparative research in the social sciences has always been its distinctive role in pro- viding explanation of macro-social phenomena. In this paper, I will dis- cuss this claim. In so doing, I will place particular emphasis on the diffi- culties which stand in the way of its realization. These difficulties arise from two kinds of complexity, which have become clear only in consid- eration both of the theoretical insight following from recent comparative social research and of contrary developments taking place at the level of international (or intercultural) relations. They are related, in other words, to the complexity of social causation, and to the complexity of compara- tive research's object domain proper. These issues will be discussed neither from the point of view of epis- temological criticism nor of methodological prescription, as has been customary in Comparative Education methodology. Rather, I shall try to take advantage of the possibilities, provided by the so-called socio- historical shift in the general meta-scientific discourse, to empirically substantiate and thus to objectify methodological arguments. Underlying my reasoning is, then, at least implicitly, a history of science perspective. More precisely, I shall examine comparative methodology and – to some extent – research as they have developed at three successive time levels: (i) at the end of the eighteenth century, when the grand program of the comparative study...

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