New journal article: Boundary control and education policy in federal systems: explaining sub-federal resilience in Canada and Germany, Comparative Education

August 9, 2021


State-building and the development of the modern nation-state was an inherently centralizing process. Education policy and institutionalization of mass public schooling played a key role in this process, facilitating industrialization and the generation of mass loyalty toward the state through national symbols, myths or a standardized language. In almost all federal systems, however, education policy remained an exclusive jurisdiction of the sub-federal level, with important long-term implications. Adopting a most dissimilar case design by using two contrasting cases - Canada and Germany – this paper argues that boundary control has been an effective mechanism for sub-federal governments to consolidate and retain power and authority over education policy, despite recurring pressures for more harmonization or even uniformity. Although both federations differ profoundly in terms of their institutional characteristics and macro-sociological context, boundary control strategies variously allowed sub-federal actors in both federations to thwart off efforts of the federal level to assume a greater role in education policy over time.