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Who watches the watchmen? Evaluating evaluations of El Sistema

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Within the growing field of publications on El Sistema and Sistema-inspired programmes around the world, a marked divide can be observed between the findings of critical academic studies and commissioned evaluations. Using evaluations of El Sistema in Venezuela and Aotearoa New Zealand as our principal case studies, we argue that this gulf can be explained at least partly by methodological problems in the way that some evaluations are carried out. We conclude that many Sistema evaluations display an alignment with advocacy rather than explorative research, and that the foundation for El Sistema’s claims of social transformation is thus weak.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Music Education
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


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    Rights statement: This article has been published in a revised form in British Journal of Music Education This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press.

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