Accepted Paper:

'Data basing' Danish educational governance - Relations, 'gaps' - and ontological experimentation  


Helene Ratner (Aarhus University)
Christopher Gad (IT-University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

The Data Warehouse (TDW) is an important infrastructural component in Danish educational governance. We examine how TDW connects, but also produces inter-organisational 'gaps'. Educational governance appears as a series of ontological experiments rather than a system with one overarching logic.

Paper long abstract:

If you visit the Danish Ministry of Education's webpage The Data Warehouse (TDW) dashboards reporting various indicators of the performance of schools will populate your screen. In Denmark, TDW has become an important infrastructural component in educational governance, as schools, ministries and municipalities are required to produce and use the data it provides.

This reflects an international tendency. Studies of educational governance systems in the UK propose that data is becoming a determining factor in educational governance. Selwyn (2015) e.g. suggests that databased infrastructures lead to a 'recursive state where data analysis begins to produce educational settings, as much as educational settings producing data'. (Selwyn 2015, 72, see also Williamson 2016). Such studies suggest that governance materialize as self-reinforcing, cybernetic feedback-loops where data structures practices, centralizes power and defines inter-organizational relations.

We propose that addressing databased governance from different positions in the network challenge the idea of an overall logic and system. Our case is based on studies of concerns and practices and inter-organizational relations emerging at three sites: the ministerial agency responsible for the development and maintenance of TDW, a municipality, and a school. TDW appears in this case to afford relations that are incomplete or 'partial' (Strathern). TDW connects, but also produces 'gaps', which is managed variously at the different sites, changing also the status of the TDW. Databasing Danish educational governance can therefore be considered a series of ontological experiments (Jensen & Morita), rather than as the implementation of a governance system with one overarching logic.

Panel A06
Meeting (in) data