The cultural production of the modern program evaluator in education
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The Cultural Production of the Modern Program Evaluator in Education is a three-year critical ethnographic investigation of the identity production of program evaluators in education. The methodological approach, grounded in Critical Discourse Analysis and analytic induction, includes: 1) open-ended interviews with 20 program evaluators, 2) of which 3 were expanded into case studies, 3) numerous email exchanges, 4) personal reflections from 16 years as a professional program evaluator, 5) field notes and 6) document analysis. Using Holland et al.’s (1998) social practice theory of self and identity, this dissertation outlines the processes, identifies the cultural tools, and provides a concise political-economic history that depicts how social scientists become program evaluators. The goal of this project was to study identity production through discourses and everyday cultural practices as a way to understand how social scientists come to accept, embody, and become passionate about the figured world of contract program evaluation. This includes drawing upon and contributing to existing meaning structures and systems of privilege. The study includes detailed case studies of program evaluators’ agentic day-to-day responses to a shifting political economic landscape and competing ideological purposes for conducting evaluations.