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Capital, Power and the Struggle over Teacher Certification Policy
Unformatted Document Text:  ASA 2008 Paper Proposal: Capital, Power and the Struggle over Teacher Certification Policy needed to consolidate a fair amount of capital to tip the scale in its favor. So far, we have seen how the state as an actor was able to do so in terms of economic and cultural capital (while, less so in terms of social capital) vis-à-vis the other agents. The bureaucratic capital of the state that, in our case, consists of the consolidation of economic and symbolic capital (as well as other less significant forms of capital) adds another important component to the formula. Moreover, particularly in the context of educational policy, the discussion of symbolic capital raises questions and issues of legitimacy, control, and accountability. For example, it opens the question of who are the audiences of educational reform? Professional educators, policy-makers, or maybe the large public? And is their value/judgment of an agent’s capital important? In a state like France where state tax goes back to the 13 th century, and where national identity, in which education plays a major role, has been steered for centuries from above, it is almost “natural” for the state to maintain unchallenged control over teacher certification without the need to explain or justify to any other agent in the field. In New Jersey, however, where the state has stayed out of education for years, getting into the field of education and assuming more control over it was not perceived by anyone as “natural.” The state needed to fight its way in by using every kind of capital possible to make a sensible legitimized argument. This contrast is helpful because it clarifies the extent of capital investment needed for changing the current orthodoxy of the field, let alone institutionalizing this new rule over time into a “natural” order. The state strategy of establishing two committees that would work on the details and elaborate the policy proposal demonstrates how cautious and thoughtful state officials were regarding to their initial position and hold of capital in the field. Generally speaking, the aim of these committees was to enhance the state’s bureaucratic capital in the field of teacher certification. But before we get into analyzing the work and value of these committees, it is 14

Authors: Tamir, Eran.
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ASA 2008 Paper Proposal: Capital, Power and the Struggle over Teacher Certification Policy
needed to consolidate a fair amount of capital to tip the scale in its favor. So far, we have seen 
how the state as an actor was able to do so in terms of economic and cultural capital (while, less 
so in terms of social capital) vis-à-vis the other agents. The bureaucratic capital of the state that, 
in our case, consists of the consolidation of economic and symbolic capital (as well as other less 
significant forms of capital) adds another important component to the formula. Moreover, 
particularly in the context of educational policy, the discussion of symbolic capital raises 
questions and issues of legitimacy, control, and accountability. For example, it opens the 
question of who are the audiences of educational reform? Professional educators, policy-makers, 
or maybe the large public?  And is their value/judgment of an agent’s capital important?
In a state like France where state tax goes back to the 13
th
 century, and where national 
identity, in which education plays a major role, has been steered for centuries from above, it is 
almost “natural” for the state to maintain unchallenged control over teacher certification without 
the need to explain or justify to any other agent in the field.  In New Jersey, however, where the 
state has stayed out of education for years, getting into the field of education and assuming more 
control over it was not perceived by anyone as “natural.” The state needed to fight its way in by 
using every kind of capital possible to make a sensible legitimized argument. This contrast is 
helpful because it clarifies the extent of capital investment needed for changing the current 
orthodoxy of the field, let alone institutionalizing this new rule over time into a “natural” order. 
The state strategy of establishing two committees that would work on the details and 
elaborate the policy proposal demonstrates how cautious and thoughtful state officials were 
regarding to their initial position and hold of capital in the field. Generally speaking, the aim of 
these committees was to enhance the state’s bureaucratic capital in the field of teacher 
certification. But before we get into analyzing the work and value of these committees, it is 
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