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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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2 Definition of higher education change There is so much observable inertia that we need a theory of nonchange. But there is also so much change in higher education itself, and change generated by it for the rest of society, that we need a systematic approach to change. At least we should solve the “Hesburgh paradox,” and go beyond, since there is much more that is con- tradictory about academic change. (Clark 1983, p. 182) History observes that the nature, function, and roles of higher education are con- stantly changing, as does human society. Those include the balance between public and private nature in higher education and the socio-cultural and econom- ic function and roles of higher education, which have some implications for the relationship between higher education and society. The types and patterns of higher education change are diversified. Some higher education changes are relatively dynamic, incorporated into the larger societal transformation. Other changes do not follow higher education structural change, but are merely symptomatic of a cultural shift. Another may be related to a functional shift without changing the financial and governing mechanisms and the purpose of higher education. The analysis on higher education change, therefore, needs to start from identifying what has changed, as Durkheim (1938) argues in the context of social change. Explanatory endeavor then follows the identification of higher education change. The purpose of the chapter is to clarify what higher education change is and propose how to approach higher education change and stability. The...

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