In recent years, the field of CIE has experienced an outburst of self-reflective papers wherein comparativists study the nature of the field and map its content. This study contributes to this trend by drawing attention to a previously unstudied aspect of CIE: its purpose. Using theories from Foucault and Bourdieu to understand the formation of a field and its perpetuation, I explain how CIE came to be in its current form. Furthermore, I use this history as a starting point for empirical research, using data from CIE research journals to test whether the pragmatic history of CIE is evident in its current body of research. Specifically, using Arnove s three purpose dimensions, I create a definitional framework that allows me to map the different purposes of CIE through the study of four journals. Having categorised the purposes of 1,578 research articles from across Comparative Education (CE), Comparative Education Review (CER), International Journal of Educational Development (IJED), and International Review of Education (IRE), I use statistical analysis methods to uncover time series trends, as well as to determine the most prominent research purposes over time. Findings show that the pragmatic aim of CIE dominates, as demonstrated by the high incidence of policy and critical articles. I use the history of CIE to explain this pragmatic trend, as well as to preliminarily predict how the field might look in the near future.