Multi-Professional Education Research – A post-historical perspective

The theme of multi-professional practice has become a prominent component of education studies programmes in recent years, in recognition of the increasing diversity of roles engaging in education and schooling, besides classroom teachers. Despite this thematic focus, there has been little empirical research with the complex meso-level of mediators who now occupy the space between policy and practice.

This paper draws on the findings from a comparative case-study of multi-professional work on the implementation of the Prevent agenda in schools, involving elite interviews with 14 mediators from Local and National government, inspectorate, teacher education, policing and security in two cities in England. It reports an increasingly complex picture of privatisation in spaces vacated by local government cuts and the dissolution of educational NGOs. In this space, different professional vocabularies interact in a ‘tower of babel’, floating free of the organisational structures in which they were coined and given concrete meaning.

This paper draws on the post-historical thesis of Alexandre Kojeve (1969) who argued that the phenomenological circle of history as a struggle for recognition had been completed, and that contemporary society is living beyond the end of history. Kojeve’s theory is applied to the historical institutionalist methodology which was used to gather data on Prevent, in order to evaluate the shortcomings of research in multi-professional settings. The author presents a revised methodological framework, ‘post-historical institutionalism’, which recognises logic-less liminal spaces in the growing distance between institutional logics, as a theoretical device to investigate multi-professional practice as it affects the contemporary educational sector.