Controversies in Education pp 63-79

Part of the Policy Implications of Research in Education book series (PIRE, volume 3) | Cite as

Evidence-Based Policy: Epistemologically Specious, Ideologically Unsound


Evidence-based policy is often presented as a simple solution to complex social problems. It is portrayed as an unimpeachable methodology, promising to deliver unarguable results. Beneath the shiny surface however, there is much that can and should be disputed. This chapter draws on current epistemological debates to argue that there is no single version of ‘evidence’ that renders it immune to scientific critique. Indeed, what counts as evidence is precisely under dispute, and there is no escape from debates about evidence. Secondly, ways in which ‘evidence’ is deployed by politicians and planners, can also be subjected to critique. At times, efforts to use ‘evidence’ as a means to impart a veneer of scientificity, are little more than a legitimation device, for political decisions that have already been taken, or for reasons of expediency. Examples from the field of education are given, that illustrate the argument.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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