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Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 536144
Title Playing language games: higher education quality dynamics in Dutch national policies since 1985
Author(s) Weenink, Kasja; Aarts, Noelle; Jacobs, Sandra
Source Critical Policy Studies 12 (2018). - ISSN 1946-0171 - p. 273 - 293.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2017.1300540
Department(s) WASS
Strategic Communication
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018
Abstract Higher education quality is a vague, ambiguous, multiple, and essentially contested concept. Quality’s contested character involves endless disputes about its proper use which makes it problematic to handle in governmental policies. Wittgenstein’s notion of language games is used to understand how, through time, higher education quality is enacted in Dutch governmental policy texts, and how its uses are related to each other. The analysis depicts various quality games interacting with different policy contexts, which show multiple enactments of quality as a unified concept alongside more differentiated uses. In the policy games, quality is not the focal notion. The games center around the steering relationship with the institutions, which are placed ‘at distance’. Through time, the games respond to increasing societal complexity and competition, and foster further flexibilization of institutional policies regarding quality and accessibility. In this management discourse with the institutions, quality is not used contrastively. It is concluded that quality’s vague and contradictory enactments and valuations are not problematic in the institutional steering relationship. Recent policy texts however relate quality’s ‘proper use’ to activities that enhance the student’s learning process. This draws attention to paradoxes for a distancing government in its role as a universal actor with societal responsibilities.
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