The 1968 structural reform of the education system in Israel was part both of a global process of democratization of education launched after the Second World War and of a larger modernization project in which the social sciences played a crucial role. This dynamic was an expression of a conjunction of interests, in which political forces used research on educational matters in order to advance their socio-political agendas, while researchers used the state's interest in their work and in the 'social problems' they elaborated in order to receive public funding and to obtain state recognition of their scientific contribution. This article traces the reformist discourse structuration - the process of institutionalization of the different social science discourses in state institutions, such as universities and national institutes - in order to disclose the social sciences/politics linkage in Israel. It also puts forward the argument that in order to understand discourse structuration at a national level, it is essential to consider an additional factor: global education networks. Global networks adopted a discourse inspired by the American school model that tended to be adopted by scholars in different countries. The article focuses on the processes in Israel whereby knowledge producers elaborated the 'inequality of opportunity' and 'ethnic gap' social problems, and proffered the 1968 structural reform as the solution.
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The global network was influential at each stage of the Israeli discourse structuration. In 1962, a decision was made at the Ministry of Education to found a Curriculum Institute. In 1963, Professor Bloom, a UNESCO curricular specialist from Chicago University and a friend of Smilansky, was invited to Israel, and in 1964 he submitted a project for the establishment of a Curriculum Institute (Bloom, n.d.). From 1965 to 1966, nine educational experts—including Shevah Eden, a member of the Pedagogic Secretariat of the Ministry of Education—attended one year of curricular studies in Chicago under Bloom’s guidance. When they returned, the Curriculum Center, sponsored by the Ministry of Education, was founded (Yadlin, 1971). According to Sabar-Ben Yoshua (1988), the curricula developed in Israel in the 1960s and early 1970s were largely influenced by the curricular approach developed by Tyler and Bloom in the United States (Eden, 1971, pp. 21–69).