Beyond school. Transnational differentiation and the shifting form of education in world society


In 2014 the European Commission introduced a reform of its previous funding efforts in the realm of education, which grouped them together under a single banner, baptised ‘Erasmus+’. The programme offers financial support for projects of transnational networks that are capable of gathering, even if only temporarily, a plurality of organisations, educational and non-educational alike, around a once-only objective, that is not expected to be repeated. Thus far sociologists and anthropologists have dealt with this topic mainly through the lens of individual mobility and identity. While such a conceptual prism allows for important questions on the construction of meaning and changes in social status, it falls short both empirically and theoretically when it comes to understanding how this reformed action programme constitutes a distinct formalisation of education, deviating from the morphogenesis of the national school system. Drawing on the theoretical framework of Niklas Luhmann, this article argues for understanding such Europeanisation of education as a means for growth by internal disjunction. That is: as an internal differentiation of the global education system, which surpasses the limits the former developed in reference to the nation-state, thus resettling and dramatically expanding the limits of what counts as meaningful education.

Journal of Education Policy