School of Social and Political Science

Research project type

From Paris to PISA: Governing Education by Comparison 1867-2015

Research team

Research team



From Paris to PISA is a research project about the history of governing education with international comparisons, from the late 19th century world fairs to present international large scale assessments. International comparisons have become the lifeblood of education governance in Europe and globally; however, they are not just a contemporary phenomenon. On the contrary, governing by comparison in education is historically as deep-rooted as the founding of the European nation-states themselves. Nonetheless, this is a history untold; following a methodological nationalism approach, historians of education have largely excluded it from their accounts of national education policy-making. Using Sweden as a case study, the aim of the project is to explore and analyse the ways in which national systems and their innovations were influenced, constructed and traded through the use of education comparisons. By focusing on Sweden, a country considered a leading education state for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, we will examine the workings and effects of international education comparisons, and will produce significant knowledge about the logics of comparison, its main actors and its techniques and effects. Through both primary data collection and secondary analysis of qualitative data from our previous scholarship, we will explain the ways in which flows of ideas and practices affected the development of education systems; how and when these processes occurred; and the degree of their relative success and failure.

Funding Body

Swedish Research Council

Completion Date

December 2018


Dr Sotiria Grek with Christian Lundahl, PI, (Örebro University), Joakim Landahl (Stockholm University) and Martin Lawn (University of Edinburgh)

Further information

Further information

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