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This text is not a research paper, nor an epistemological reflection about the field of comparative education. It is an essay in the literal meaning of the word-'an attempt, trial, that needs to be put to test in order to understand if it is able to fulfil the expectations'-in which we introduce an interpretation of the current condition of the field of comparative education. In the introduction to this essay we discuss the current phenomenon of a regained popularity of comparative educational research. We believe that this situation has both positive and negative consequences: it can contribute to the renewal of the field or it may be no more than a brief fashion. Our reflections focus on the uses of comparative research in education, not on any precise research question. Even so, only for illustrative purposes, we present some examples related to the European Union. We then go on to discuss current comparative practices, arguing that comparative educational studies are used as a political tool creating educational policy, rather than a research method or an intellectual inquiry. In the two main sections of this text we define two extreme positions: comparison as a mode of governance and comparison as a historical journey. We do recognise that between these two extremes there is room enough to imagine different positions and dispositions. But our intention is to separate very different traditions of the comparative field analytically. Throughout the article we build a case in favour of a comparative-historical approach. Nevertheless, we argue that the reconciliation between 'history' and 'comparison' will only be possible if we adopt new conceptions of space and time, and of space-time relationship. This is a condition required for the understanding of comparative research in education as a historical journey.




Nóvoa, A., & Yariv-Mashal, T. (2003). Comparative research in education: A mode of governance or a historical journey? Comparative Education, 39(4), 423–438. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305006032000162002

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