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What Is Comparative Education?

Annual Review of Comparative and International Education 2018

ISBN: 978-1-83867-416-8, eISBN: 978-1-83867-415-1

Publication date: 27 September 2019


In his interview as part of the project to mark the 50th anniversary of the Comparative and International Education Society, Steve Klees offered sound advice to young scholars entering the field of comparative education, “Understand our debates, understand there are no right positions in our debates, and understand your own position in our debates and engage in the debates.”

In this chapter, the author argues that in recent years those theoretical debates that are central to comparative education have been ignored, or at least played down, resulting in a lot of work that is “atheoretical.” In this context, “atheoretical” does not mean that the work is not based on theoretical assumptions but that those assumptions are not thoroughly examined. Consequently, certain positions are adopted by default, seen as “natural.” This has not only affected comparative education but also is endemic to the field of educational research more generally, where methodological debate has been simplified to a choice between quantitative or qualitative methods.

This chapter will examine the epistemological, ontological, and sociological decisions that must be the foundation of any educational research, illustrating the points with key debates in the field of comparative and international education.



Turner, D.A. (2019), "What Is Comparative Education?", Wiseman, A.W. (Ed.) Annual Review of Comparative and International Education 2018 (International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 37), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 99-114.



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