British Journal of Political Science

Review Article

Review Article: Comparative Political Science and the Study of Education

Marius R. Busemeyer and Christine Trampusch*


The study of education has long been a neglected subject in political science. Recently, however, scholarly interest in the field has been increasing rapidly. This review essay introduces the general readership to this burgeoning literature with a particular focus on work in comparative public policy and political economy. Particular topics discussed are the historical and political foundations of contemporary education systems, the political and institutional determinants of education policies, the internationalization and Europeanization of education, the political economy of skill formation in varieties of capitalism and the effects of education policies. The article also introduces scholarship in related disciplines such as economics, sociology and comparative education sciences, and points out avenues for future interdisciplinary dialogue between political science and these disciplines.

(Online publication January 05 2011)


* Department of Political Science and Management, University of Konstanz (email:; and Department of Political Science, University of Bern, respectively. The authors are indebted to the participants in our education workshop held in 2009 at the European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions in Lisbon for insights gained through discussions with them. They would also like to thank Carsten Jensen, Moira Nelson and Rita Nikolai, as well as the referees and Editors of this Journal for their valuable comments. Finally, Anne Burian provided excellent research assistance.