Jan Nespor

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Professor, Department of Educational Studies

Program Area: Educational Policy

(614) 688-3084

Personal Website


  • PhD, University of Texas at Austin

Research Interests

Research Summary

My research interests have been spread across several areas in recent years, but revolve around teachers' work, inter-institutional linkages, the place of schooling in urban political discourses and methodological issues related to studying these topics.

For example, what kinds of pressures do the economic transformations of the past decade place on teachers? Declining government funding, school district budgetary shortfalls, struggles to pass levies, increasing costs of college education, mounting consumer debt, stagnating pay, and the rest may or may not be obvious influences in an elementary school classroom, but all have implications for the conditions of teaching, the operation of teacher labor markets and the viability of teaching as a career.

How do the tools and concepts that political leaders, city administrators and school officials use to situate schools in state, city, and neighborhood contexts, influence the ways they formulate the problems of urban education?

How are "opportunities to learn" distributed across city landscapes and in what forms are they accessible in different regions of a metropolitan area?

How are the inter-organizational ties of institutions at different levels of the school system - the connections of elementary to middle schools, middle to high school, and secondary to post-secondary - being reshaped by national policies?

In particular, I'm interested in what might be called cross-level 'policy-borrowing' or downward-propagating institutional isomorphism - the ways that monoponistic ties among institutions create pressures for organizations at earlier levels of the system to shape themselves in terms of the premises and practices of organizations at future levels (e.g., how high schools shape themselves into preparation systems for post-secondary)

I also teach and write a bit about qualitative research methods. I have a related web page.

Selected Publications


  • Nespor, J. (2006). Technology and the politics of instruction. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Nespor, J. (1997). Tangled Up in School: Politics, Space, Bodies, and Signs in the Educational Process. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Nespor, J. (1994). Knowledge in Motion: Space, Time and Curriculum in Undergraduate Physics and Management. Philadelphia: Falmer,

Chapters in Books

  • Nespor, J. (2006). Finding patterns with field notes. In Green, J., Camilli, G., & Elmore, P. (Eds.), Complementary Methods for Research in Education (pp. 587-598). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

Journal Articles

  • Nespor. J. (2011). Devices and educational change. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43, No. S1, pp. 15-37.
  • Nespor, J. & Hicks, D. (2010). Wizards and Witches: parent advocates and contention in special education in the USA. Journal of Education Policy. 25 (3), 309-334.
  • Nespor, J., Hicks, D. and Fall, A-M (2009). Time and exclusion. Disability & Society, 24: 373-385.
  • Nespor, J. (2008). Education and Place. Educational Theory, 58: 475-489.
  • Nespor, J. (2007). Curriculum Charts and Time in Undergraduate Education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 28 (6), pp. 753-766.
  • Nespor, J. (2006). Morphologies of Inquiry: the uses and spaces of paradigm proliferation. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 19(1), 115-128.
  • Nespor, J. (2004). Educational scale-making. Pedagogy, Culture, and Society. 12(3), 309-326.