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The cultural mediation of state policy: the democratic potential of new community schooling in Scotland

Nixon, Jon and Walker, Melanie and Baron, Stephen (2002) The cultural mediation of state policy: the democratic potential of new community schooling in Scotland. Journal of Educational Policy, 17 (4). pp. 407-421. ISSN 0268-0939

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to assess the democratic potential of New Community Schools (NCS) as developed by the Scottish Executive in one of its first major educational initiatives. It traces the background to the initiative, locates it within the particular circumstances of the historical, political and cultural contexts of Scotland, and defines its particular ambivalence with regard to deliberative democracy. This ambivalence, it is argued, results from the mediation of state policy. Policy, we argue, does not so much 'migrate' as become culturally 'mediated' in generative local contexts. It has to accommodate itself to, and be assimilated by, different national cultures - even, perhaps especially, across the national boundaries of an increasingly devolved UK, framed simultaneously by a global context. The paper evaluates NCS in terms of the ends and purposes of deliberative democracy under such conditions of possibility. Finally, it infers from the early NCS experience a number of conditions for democratic renewal.