Researching the once-powerful in education: the value of retrospective elite interviewing in education policy research

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Abstract

While it is generally acknowledged that being historically informed lies at the heart of critical accounts of education policy-making, the use of historically focused retrospective research methods within the field is rare. This paper makes the case for retrospective research at a time when some of the most significant episodes of post-war educational policy-making are fast passing into the realms of not-so-recent history. In particular, it is argued that current policy scholars now have an opportunity to revisit the issues and concerns regarding the formation of the New Right education policy reforms 30 years ago. Drawing on the experiences of a recently completed study of educational policy-making during the 1979-1983 Thatcher administration, it is argued that retrospective methods offer a surprisingly rich opportunity to collect primary data from the policy elites of the 1980s. It is concluded that the time is right for the production of a useful addendum to the founding studies of educational policy sociology that were conducted at the time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339 - 352
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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