Intimate Accounting and the challenge to numbers in Australia’s ‘Education Revolution’
Numbers have long been associated with statecraft. In bureaucratic processes of accounting, regulation was effected by forming centres of calculation. This paper suggests that contemporary post-bureaucratic regimes are evolving new forms of accounting, in which the centre inserts itself into individual sites to exercise authority. This ‘intimate accounting’ involves technologies of transparency through which individual sites such as schools are required to declare intimate information publicly. In turn, the public, armed with information, is exhorted to become informed and to exercise influence on institutions to excel and to hold them to account. Using the case of Australia’s ‘Education Revolution’, this paper describes the processes of intimate accounting. It then explores the efforts to resist, subvert and undo such calculations. Finally, it speculates on why these calculations have continued to appear robust in the face of opposition and what would need to be done to escape or resist such calculations.
Keywords: Sociology of Numbers; Education Policy and Numbers; Accountability
Asdal K (2011) The Office: The weakness of numbers and the production of non-authority. Accounting, Organizations and Society 36: 1-9.
Australian Education Union (2010) Professional Voice (Winter ed. Vol. The NAPLAN Debate): AEU.
Callon M (1986) Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: the Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. In: Law J (ed), Power, action and belief: a new sociology of knowledge? London & Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp.
Callon M Lascoumes P and Barthe Y (2009) Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy. Cambridge & London: MIT Press.
Callon M and Law J (2005) On qualculation, agency, and otherness. Environment and Planning D-Society & Space 23(5): 717-733. doi: DOI 10.1068/d353t
Cochoy F (2002) Une Sociologie du Packaging ou l'Aêne de Buridan Face au Marche¨[A sociology of packaging, or Buridan's ass in the face of the market. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Commonwealth of Australia (2008b) Quality Education: The Case for an Education Revolution in our Schools. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
Commonwealth of Australia (2010a) Delivering the Education Revolution [Press release]. Available at: https://ministers.employment.gov.au/gillard/delivering-education-revolution (accessed 4 January 2018).
Commonwealth of Australia (2010b) My School to provide unprecedented school performance data. Online: Australian Government. Available at: http://pmtranscripts.dpmc.gov.au/release/transcript-17380 (accessed 4 January 2018).
Donovan S (2008) Transparency revolution promised for schools. In: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, PM. Radio National.
Education and Employment References Committee (2014) Effectiveness of the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Final Report. Canberra, ACT: The Senate.
Espeland WN and Stevens M (2008) A Sociology of Quantification. Archives of European Sociology XLIX(3): 401-436.
Gorur R (2011a) ANT on the PISA Trail: Following the statistical pursuit of certainty. Educational Philosophy and Theory 43(S1): 76-93.
Gorur R (2011b) Policy as Assemblage. European Educational Research Journal, 10(4): 611-622.
Gorur R (2013) My School, My Market. Discourse-Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 34(2): 214-230. doi: 10.1080/01596306.2013.770248
Gorur, R. (2015a). Producing Calculable Worlds: education at a glance. Discourse-Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 36(4): 578-595.
Gorur R (2015b) Assembling a Sociology of Numbers. In: Hamilton M, Maddox B and Addey C (eds) Literacy as Numbers – Researching the Politics and Practices of International Literacy Assessment. London: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-16.
Gorur R (2015c) The Performative Politics of NAPLAN and My School. In: Thompson G, Sellar S and Lingard R (Eds) National Testing and its Effects: Evidence from Australia. London: Routledge, pp.
Gorur R (2016) Seeing like PISA: A Cautionary Tale about the Performativity of International Assessments. European Educational Research Journal 15(5): 598–616. doi:10.1177/1474904116658299
Gorur R and Koyama JP (2013) The struggle to technicise in education policy. Australian Educational Researcher 40(5): 633-648. doi: 10.1007/s13384-013-0125-9
Harrison D (2010) Principals reject My School site. The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/principals-reject-my-school-site-20100324-qwtq.html (accessed 4 January 2018).
Latour B (1987) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Lingard R, Martino W and Rezai-Rashti G (2013) Testing Regimes, Accountabilities and Education Policy. Journal of Education Policy 28(5): 539-556.
Lippert I (2013) Enacting Environments: An Ethnography of the Digitalisation and Naturalisation of Emissions. PhD Dissertation in Sociology, University of Augsburg, Augsburg. http://doi.org/6vh
Methodist Ladies College (2018) Homepage, Available at: https://www.mlc.vic.edu.au (accessed 16 January 2018).
Miller CA (2005) New Civic Epistemologies of Quantification: Making Sense of Indicators of Local and Global Sustainability. Science, Technology and Human Values 30(3): 403-432.
Politicsresources.net. (1997) Labour Party Manifesto, General Election 1997 [Archive]. Available at: http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/man/lab97.htm (accessed 2 July. 2017).
Porter T (1994) Objectivity as Standarization: The Rhetoric of Impersonality in Measurement, Statistics, and Cost-Benefit Analysis. In: Megill A (ed) Rethinking Objectivity. Durham: Duke Univeristy Press, pp. 197-237.
Porter T (1995) Trust in Numbers - The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life. Princeton & Chichester: Princeton University Press.
Power M (1997) The audit society: rituals of verification. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.
Rizvi F and Lingard B (2010) Globalizing Education Policy. Routledge.
Rose N (1991) Governing by numbers: Figuring out democracy. Accounting Organizations and Society 16(7): 673-692.
Sales L (2008) Julia Gillard joins Lateline. Radio Interview. In: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline.
Scott JC (1998) Seeing Like a State: How Some Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Binghampton & New York: Vail-Ballou Press.
Simola H, Ozga J, Segerholm C and Varjo J (2011) Governing by Numbers: The rise of data in education. In: Ozga J, Dahler-Larsen P, Segerholm C and Simola H (eds) Fabricating Quality in Education: Data and governance in Europe. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 96-106.
Steiner-Khamsi G (2015) Foreword. In: Hamilton M, Maddox B and Addey C (eds) Literacy as numbers: Researching the politics and practices of international literacy assessment regimes. CITY: Cambridge University Press, pp.xi-xii.
Strathern M (2000) The Tyranny of Transparency. British Educational Research Journal 26(3): 309-321.
Strathern M (2003) New Accountabilities - Anthropological studies in audit, ethics and the academy. In: Strathern M (ed) Anthropological studies in accountability, ethics and the academy. Florence: Taylor and Francis, pp.
Thomson P (2002) Schooling the Rustbelt Kids. Allen & Unwin NSW
Thomson S, De Bortoli L and Underwood C (2016) PISA 2015 - A first look at Australia's results. Camberwell, Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.
Tomazin F (2013) Schools caught cheating on NAPLAN. The Age. Available from http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/schools-caught-cheating-on-naplan-20130216-2ek6p.html (accessed 4 January 2018)
Tomazin F and Tovey J (2009) Schools are failing us, says Gillard. The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/schools-are-failing-us-says-gillard-20090621-csld.html (accessed 4 January 2018)
Williss M (2010) Why ICSEA fails our schools. Available at: http://www.aeusa.asn.au/why_icsea_will_fail_our_schools.pdf (accessed 28 May 2010)
This Science & Technology Studies website ("Site") is owned and operated by The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies (“Society”), PO Box 117, c/o Otto Auranen, Sepänkatu 4-8 A 16, 33230 Tampere,Finland. The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies and its publication Science & Technology Studies are non-profit organizations.
The Society reserves the right to change, modify, add or remove portions of these Terms and Conditions at its discretion at any time and without prior notice. Please check this page periodically for any modifications. Your continued use of this Site following the posting of any changes will mean that you have accepted the changes.Copyrights and Limitations on Use
All content in this Site, including site layout, design, images, text and other information (collectively, the "Content") is the property of The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies/Science & Technology Studies and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws, unless otherwise noted.
You may not copy, display, distribute, modify, publish, reproduce, store, transmit, create derivative works from, or sell or license all or any part of the Content, products or services obtained from this Site in any medium to anyone, except as otherwise expressly permitted under applicable law or as described in these Terms and Conditions or relevant license or subscriber agreement.
You may print or download Content from the Site for academic, your own personal, non-commercial use, provided that you keep intact all copyright and other proprietary notices. You may not engage in systematic retrieval of Content from the Site to create or compile, directly or indirectly, a collection, compilation, database or directory without prior written permission from Science & Technology Studies.
The Site may contain robot exclusion headers, and by using the Site you agree that you will not use any robots, spiders, crawlers or other automated downloading programs or devices to access, search, index, monitor or copy any Content. The harvesting of postal or email addresses from the Site for purposes of sending unsolicited or unauthorized commercial material, is prohibited. Any questions about whether a particular use is authorized and any requests for permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, display or make derivative works from any Content should be directed to the Science & Technology Studies Assistant Editor.
You may not use the services on the Site to publish or distribute any information (including software or other content) that is illegal; violates or infringes upon the rights of any other person; is abusive, hateful, profane, pornographic, threatening or vulgar; contains errors, viruses or other harmful components; or is otherwise actionable by law. Science & Technology Studies may at any time exercise editorial control over the content of any information or material that is submitted or distributed through its facilities and/or services.
You may not, without the approval of Science & Technology Studies, use the Site to publish or distribute any advertising, promotional material, or solicitation to other users of the Site to use any goods or services. For example (but without limitation), you may not use the Site to conduct any business, to solicit the performance of any activity that is prohibited by law, or to solicit other users to become subscribers of other information services. Similarly, you may not use the Site to download and redistribute public information or shareware for personal gain or use the facilities and/or services to distribute multiple copies of public domain information or shareware.Trademarks
All trademarks appearing on this Site are the property of their respective owners.Links to Other Sites
The Site may contain hyperlinks to other sites or resources that are provided solely for your convenience. Science & Technology Studies is not responsible for the availability of external sites or resources linked to the Site, and does not endorse and is not responsible or liable for any content, advertising, products or other materials on or available from such sites or resources. Transactions that occur between you and any third party are strictly between you and the third party and are not the responsibility of Science & Technology Studies. Due to the fact that Science & Technology Studies is not responsible for the availability or accuracy of these outside resources or their contents, you should review the terms and conditions and privacy policies of these linked sites, as their policies may differ from ours.
Last revised: 10 October 2012