Higher Education in Further Education in England: An Actor-Network Ethnography

Higher Education in Further Education in England: An Actor-Network Ethnography

Jonathan Tummons (University of Teesside, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/jantti.2009070104
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The provision of higher education courses within further education colleges in England poses particular questions for the researcher. This article argues that the complexities of the relationships between colleges where courses are run, and the universities that supply these courses, can be fruitfully explored using actor-network theory. This article provides an actor-network account of one teacher-training course as an example of the ways in which both people and text-based artefacts are coalesced and coordinated so that the course functions across institutional and spatial boundaries. Assessment has been chosen as a specific focus several reasons: it must be performed in certain ways and must conform to particular outcomes that are standardized across colleges; it is an established focus of research; and it is a focus of specific observable activities. The article concludes that assessment processes are regulated and ordered in complex ways for which actor-network theory provides an appropriate conceptual framework.

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