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A Comparative Analysis of Education Reform and its Impact on Socio-Economic Reform in the Twentieth Century



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Sabric , Deborah Ann  ORCID logo


The research project, conceptualized through a comparative historical framework, focuses on an analysis of American and English education policy from 1964 to 2000 with particular emphasis on the inter-relationships between education policy and socio-economic disadvantage. Although the focus of the project is primarily the last four decades of the twentieth century, there is an initial consideration of immediate post-war discourses on poverty and education focusing on the impact that these had upon educational structures and curricula. Critical theory, particularly as conceptualized by Jürgen Habermas, and the Culture of Poverty thesis advanced by Oscar Lewis, form the methodological frameworks that underpin the research project. The research, which was conducted in two post-industrial communities with significant rates of socio-economic deprivation and records of poor educational attainment within secondary education, considers the impact of national policy upon the communities, particularly in relationship to socio-economic deprivation, access to education, equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes. The research design utilises the case study method to scrutinise two secondary schools within these communities as a means of analysing how teachers negotiated the implementation of education policies for their respective student populations. Documentary evidence and oral histories provide the methods to delve into this interconnection between education and socio-economic deprivation while modified Skinnerian and Eastonian frameworks provide the foundations upon which to analyse the data. The dissertation is not meant to trace the history of two schools and two communities but to see the schools and communities as a microcosm of American and English secondary education. The intention, therefore, is to employ the research findings to prescribe potential and future policy directions. Essentially, tracing educational history to understand it while utilising educational history as a tool to inform new and innovative policy where education can ameliorate socio-economic deprivation in each nation.





Gardner, Philip W.


Education reform, Socio-economic deprivation, United States, England, Twentieth Century Education, Education Policy, Buffalo, Barnsley, Education History, Systems Analysis, Comparative Policy Analysis, Poverty


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge