Murphy, M. (forthcoming 2018) Ever greater scrutiny: Researching the bureaucracy of educational accountability. In A. Wilkins and A. Olmedo (eds), Education governance and social theory: Interdisciplinary approaches to research. London: Bloomsbury.
This chapter explores the relevance of Jürgen Habermas to research on education governance and in particular research on education accountability. The introduction defines education governance via accountability as a problematic form of management, given its tendency to deliver unwanted consequences. It positions Habermas as a social theorist who can offer critical tools to explore these consequences. The chapter includes a section on Habermas’ methodology, positioning Habermas as a ‘critical sociologist’. This is followed by an overview of his theory of lifeworld colonisation which is then used to examine research applications in the field of education accountability. Identified as key research findings are the limits of accountability and the damage it can cause to interpersonal relations. The discussion highlights some limitations of Habermas’ theory, while the chapter concludes by making a case for Habermas as an exemplar of hybridization in the field of social theory and education governance research.