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Title: Cultural and epistemological otherness in PISA : a translation studies perspective
Author: Kaess, Kathleen
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 5998
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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Fundamentally, this research is concerned with the discussion and analysis of concepts on which the PISA survey (Programme for International Student Assessment) and the workings of the OECD as an intergovernmental organisation currently appear to be predicated (according to the OECD’s own publications); it is therefore to be understood primarily as a theoretical contribution to the study of the role of translation in PISA and the OECD. Processes involved in the development of the assessment are discussed in order to highlight the structural as well as procedural shortcomings of PISA, which potentially contribute to the exclusion of cultural and epistemological otherness in the assessment: on the one hand, the development process established by the OECD will be analysed in the light of Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic power (1989), as it will be suggested that, in the context of PISA, the power imbalance between OECD and non-OECD member states impacts directly on the development process, and on the extent to which both cultural and epistemological otherness are recognised and represented in PISA testing material. On the other hand, the limitations of the processes and models involved in the translation of PISA will be discussed in order to further the contention that cultural and epistemological otherness are largely excluded from the assessment. The OECD depends on full and direct equivalence between all translated PISA language versions in order to ensure valid, cross-cultural comparability of data generated by the study; the translational model applied to the translation of PISA is therefore based on literal translation, which leaves cultural and epistemological otherness unaccounted for in order to create the illusion of equivalence between all translated test versions (Hambleton et al 2005). It will ultimately be suggested that the English source version of PISA is culturally and epistemologically flattened (and thus biased towards the OECD member states that are directly involved in the development of the study) and that the translation process perpetuates such flattening by disallowing cultural and epistemological complexity to enter the translation process. Lastly, this thesis will propose a reconceptualisation of the PISA development process - emerging from conceptual discussions of commensurabiiity, translatability, and intercultural translation - in an attempt to highlight the ethical responsibility the OECD has towards those countries and economies that are not part of the development process of PISA - and therefore ultimately towards cultural and epistemological otherness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available