A Review of Theoretical Approaches to Study the Bologna Process in Educational Sociology from 2004-2014

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jana HEINZ, Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany
This presentation analyzes current theoretical approaches employed by educational sociology researchers to study the Bologna Process (BP).

The BP was initiated by four European Ministers of Education in Paris in 1998 by signing the Sorbonne declaration and is now perceived as the most influential higher education reform in the last decade both inside and outside Europe. The BP has served as a legitimizing power to implement national reforms as well as to establish European reforms that had been developed before. Non-European countries view the establishment of a European Higher Education Area as serious competition with their national higher education systems as well as a window of opportunity for improvements. While the BP’s impact has been global, its implementation has been strongly influenced by differing cultural backgrounds as well as by differing university levels and disciplines.

 In this presentation I ask what theoretical approaches are employed to examine the BP in the field of educational sociology. A review of publications focusing on the BP, using the Social Sciences Citation Index in the Web of Science from 2004 to 2014 was conducted. Preliminary results of reviewing the 139 articles, reveal a large variety of theoretical approaches, such as institutional and neo-institutional theories, path dependence models, concepts of loose coupling, transnational communication and various governance models. A few of these studies develop approaches to include global as well as national influencing factors on the development of higher education systems.

 Thus, there is a need to classify existing theoretical approaches and to develop a more comprehensive theory. The study presented here gives insights into the strengths and weaknesses of current theories analyzing higher educational systems and ongoing changes. It thus contributes to advancing theory building in the sociology of education.