Dr Diego Santori's research is in the field of policy-sociology, with particular interest in how policy structures and assumptions shape or bound our social imaginary. Taylor (2004, p. 23) uses the notion of social imaginary to describe ‘the ways people imagine their social existence, how they fit together with others, how things go on between them and their fellows, the expectations that are normally met, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie this expectation’.
Currently, Diego is interested in the role of high-stakes testing and school performance data in contemporary education systems, and the ways in which they produce new cultural forms and practices. This is, the ways in which test-driven policies and initiatives impact on educational institutions, shaping the curriculum as well as teachers, parents and pupils’ practices. In particular, he has researched the impact of standardised testing and league tables on school practices in Chile, with attention to the role of affect and emotions in the production of test scores.
Diego is also interested in the key role of policy networks in education, and how they mobilise resources (both material and symbolic) and eventually legitimise certain initiatives, discourses and practices. Together with Professor Stephen Ball and Carolina Junemann, Diego has worked on a Leverhulme Trust-funded research on the role of philanthropy and venture capital in education policy. This research looked into a set of new forms and methods of global education policy and governance focusing on the development of chains of low-fee private schools for the poor in sub-Saharan Africa. In the context of this research Diego had the chance to visit low-fee school chains in Accra, Kumasi and Nairobi, which was a wonderful opportunity to explore how ideas, 'things' and money move across the globe.