The medicalization of current educational research and its effects on education policy and school reforms


  • Daniel Tröhler Instituto de Educación y Sociedad de la Universidad de Luxemburgo

Palabras clave:

medicalization, evidence-based, education research, education policy, expertise, intervention studies, democracy


This paper starts from the assumption of the emergence of an educationalized culture over the last 200 years according to which perceived social problems are translated into educational challenges. As a result, both educational institutions and educational research grew, and educational policy r esulted from negotiations between professionals, researchers, and policy makers. The paper argues that specific experiences in the Second World War triggered a fundamental shift in the social and cultural role of academia, leading up to a technocratic culture characterized by confidence in e xperts rather than in practicing professionals (i.e., teachers and administrators). In this  technocratic shift, first a technological system of reasoning emerged, and it was then replaced by a medical  “paradigm.” The new paradigm led to a medicalization of social research, in which a particular organi stic understanding of the social reality is taken for granted and research is conducted under the mos tly undiscussed premises of this particular understanding. The result is that despite the increased importance of research in general, this expertocratic and medical shift of  social research led to a massive reduction in reform opportunities by depriving the reform stakeholders of abroad range of education research, professional experience, common sense, and political deliberation.