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Reasoning Higher Education Change

Structure, Agency and Culture

Keiko Yokoyama

The purpose of this book is to explain higher education change and resistance to change. The book explores Giddens’ structuration theory and Archer’s critical realism by clarifying cultural conditioning and integrating structural, agency and cultural conditionings within the context of higher education change and continuity. The book argues that we can explain higher education change by shifts in one or more conditions in structure, agency and culture, which enable higher education to transform into another form. It proposes two models for illustrating the relationships between the three conditionings that bring about higher education change. It supports the concepts of duality and reflexivity, denying analytical dualism.


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1 Introduction


“Change” is not a simple concept. Nor is “higher education change.” Academics and researchers have understood “change” in many ways, such as “evolution” and “adaptation,” based upon Darwinism, and Marxist “revolution.” We have also interpreted the process of change in various ways, including dialectic, un- folding future, and unilineal or non-lineal development. “Change” has had di- verse meanings and interpretations, triggering various theoretical points of views and approaches. There have been yet no theories of higher education change per se although there has been considerable effort to clarify higher education change on a case- study basis. A relatively limited number of studies have dealt with causal expla- nations for higher education change; few of these have taken a theoretical or conceptual perspective. Academics and researchers have analyzed higher educa- tion change either contextually or through the application of theories from other disciplines such as sociology and psychology. The lack of theoretical studies on higher education change is probably due in part to the nature of the field of higher education, which values not only scholarly but also descriptive and in- formative works. It is a field in which people attempt to find a good marriage between academics and practitioners. Another factor is that the context- dependent nature of higher education analysis limits de-contextualization and the degree of abstraction. Higher education is contextual because it is part of a larger society. General theories of social change in sociology are insightful to understand “higher education change,” although theoretical problems inherent in the...

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