This is the third post where I will briefly review the works of comparative education scholars and place them along an epistemological spectrum. For this post, I’m looking at cross-national analysis.
Archer, M. S. 1979. Social Origins of Educational Systems. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Margaret Scotford Archer is placed under cross-national analysis of the epistemological spectrum for several reasons. Archer argues in defense of Macro-Sociology as a means to explain large-scale, complex social phenomena on education and in the case of Archer’s specific study, how sociology can add to the understanding of how educational systems develop and how they change. Several statements made by Archer stand out as placing her under a cross-national analysis theoretical approach. Archer argues that “individual’s interpretations of their situations are important in macro-sociology; its advocates simply insist that there are things about these (disagreeable and rewarding) situations which encourage certain interpretations of them.” Further, Archer argues that “in complex societies the number of cross-cutting inter-dependencies between parts is so high, any change induced in one element will have repercussions for others.” The most compelling statement from Archer is that “macro-sociologists do not deny that the actions of individuals are the causal origin of complex phenomena…they simply maintain that because at present we are unable to know what this causal chain is, we must acknowledge this non-deducibility and thus consider individual actions to be necessary but not sufficient conditions.” Archer’s nomothetic approach to comparative education place her in the company of other comparative scholars such as Torsten Husen, Adam Curle and Philip Foster.
Christenson, M., and E. Crenshaw. 1999. “Democracy’s Handmaiden: The Influence of Mass Education on Political and Economic Change,” in Comparative Perspectives on the Role of Education in Democratization: Part I: Transitional States and States of Transition, ed. N.F. McGinn and E.H. Epstein, 81-116. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
It is immediately evident in Christenson and Crenshaw’s article that they are employing a cross-national analysis theoretical framework to their research. They highlight in the abstract of their article that they “use cross-national samples and multivariate statistical techniques to test this hypothesis with respect to three dimensions of modernization.” Christenson and Crenshaw describe the purpose of their research by using cross-national samples from 55 to 100 countries. In doing so, they hope “to demonstrate empirically that mass education plays a unique, integral role in macrosocial change, exerting direct influences on the antecedents of democracy, economic development and social stratification/inequality, thereby indirectly affecting democracy, as well as exercising a direct effect on democracy itself.” Christenson and Crenshaw’s nomothetic approach to comparative education is quite evident throughout their article.
 Archer, M. S. Social Origins of Educational Systems. (London: Sage Publications Ltd., 1979), 1.
 Archer, M. S. Social Origins of Educational Systems. (London: Sage Publications Ltd., 1979), 28.
 Ibid, 29.
 Ibid, 36.
 Christenson, M., and E. Crenshaw. “Democracy’s Handmaiden: The Influence of Mass Education on Political and Economic Change,” in Comparative Perspectives on the Role of Education in Democratization: Part I: Transitional States and States of Transition, ed. N.F. McGinn and E.H. Epstein, (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1999), 81.
 Ibid, 83-84.