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Resistances to scientific knowledge production of comparative measurements of dropout and completion in European higher education

The article is a critical sociological analysis of current transnational practices on creating comparable measurements of dropout and completion in higher education and the consequences for the conditions of scientific knowledge production on the topic. The analysis revolves around questions of epistemological, methodological and symbolic types and, in particular, how the social processes in the creation and use of different measures offer researchers different positions in the knowledge production. Descriptions of statistics and measurements from statistics agencies in Sweden and the UK and from the OECD, EUROSTAT and Eurydice, as well as policy texts and data collection manuals from European Union bodies, have been compared and analysed. Particular interest is directed towards examples of measures used in Sweden and the UK. The results suggest that available data on student completion offers only a very limited basis for researchdriven comparative analysis. It offers also a problematisation of the notions of researchers seen as users or producers of data and different position takings in statistical reasoning in using statistics as for example different types of evidence for policymaking.

Keywords: Higher education, knowledge production, comparative studies, symbolic power, completion, student dropouts, measurements

Pre-print (Carlhed-resistance-article-accepted-version)

Published article: DOI: 10.1177/1474904116667363

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