This paper is concerned with theorising the nature of policy and its production. It takes as its starting point the work of Stephen Ball,1 particularly his writings within the pages of this journal (13(2), 1993)—later reprinted as Chapter 2 in Education Reform (1994a)—as well as his earlier writings in Politics and Policy Making in Education (1990) and Reforming Education and Changing Schools (Bowe, Ball & Gold, 1992). More broadly, the paper is located within a 'new' sociological interest in education policy often referred to as 'policy sociology'2 (Payne, Dingwall, Payne & Carter, 1981; Ozga, 1987, Ball, 1990; Bowe, Ball & Gold, 1992); a concern that is 'rooted in the social science tradition, historically informed and drawing on qualitative and illuminative techniques' (Ozga, 1987, p. 144) and 'united by the conviction that "things", especially policy discourse, must be pulled apart' (Troyna, 1994, p. 71) to determine whose interests they serve.
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