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Tan, C. (2012). The culture of education policy-making: Curriculum reform in Shanghai. Critical Studies in Education, 53(2), 153-167.
This paper explores the culture of education policy making in Shanghai using the conceptual tool of a 'global assemblage'. A global assemblage is essentially a collection of ideas and practices that arise from the interplay between a global form and situated socio-cultural elements. Focussing on the global form of curriculum reform, this paper explains how the Shanghai municipal government justifies the introduction of the 'Second Curriculum Reform' using the global imperative while maintaining its socialist ideology and central control on high-stakes exams. This paper highlights the active roles played by the municipal government and other local educational stakeholders in assembling their own logics, tactics and countermeasures in the contested space of the assemblage. It is argued that the success of the curriculum reform is mediated and vitiated by the socio-cultural elements of a dominant exam-oriented culture and the traditional approaches of memorisation, repeated practice and didactic teaching. The complex and unpredictable process of implementing curriculum reform in Shanghai illustrates the culture of education policy making against a backdrop of globalisation as a problem space.
This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in Critical Studies in Education. The published version is available online at
1750-8487 (print)
1750-8495 (online)
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