Institute of Education

Research & Expertise to Make a Difference in Education & Beyond

Exploring Novelty Perspectives in Human Capital Theory and Education

On October 5–7, Hakone, Japan hosted the 2018 Conference of Asia Pacific Sociological Association (APSA), the largest forum for multifaceted social scholarship in the Pacific Rim region. Senior researcher Pavel Sorokin, Academic Supervisor in IOE’s Evidence-based Educational Policy MA, presented at the event about a recent study he carried out together with IOE Head Isak Froumin, which aims to largely rethink the conceptual framework of human capital.   

The Conference agenda was focused on multiple domains of societal and economic progress as well as the role of social studies in better addressing challenges and roadblocks that confront different societies across the globe.

Much of the discourse this year was devoted to how education can contribute to sustainability and growth. Special emphasis placed on educational topics during APSA 2018 reflects the fact that Japan stands out among its Pacific Rim peers by high participation of the population in tertiary L&D.   

Drawing upon extensive evidence from Russian educational settings, the study by Isak Froumin and Pavel Sorokin, which was presented at the Conference, explores various aspects of how education is involved in shaping national socio-economic development in the modern world.

The notion of human capital has traditionally received rather limited attention at sociological conferences, and it is exactly this concept that I sought to focus on during my presentation. When it comes to discussing how education contributes to the development of society, human capital is often viewed within a resource-centric framework as a sort of asset that needs to be adequately created. What we argue for is that such an interpretation should be rethought to conceive of human capital as a powerful driving force capable of enabling new institutions, and here the conceptual foundations set out by John Meyer come to the fore.

Pavel Sorokin 
IOE Senior Researcher

The novelty perspective proposed by Isak Froumin and Pavel Sorokin has prompted keen interest among peer researchers from various corners of the globe. Specifically, Prof. Janeen Baxter (Australia), Dr. Nam Tran (Australia) and Xu Heng (Hong Kong) have voiced their preliminary intent to collaborate with IOE on this research topic.