23 SES 06 A, Mediatization in New Regimes of Education Governance
Throughout Europe, governing education is increasingly influenced by different forms of evaluation systems including quality audits, ranking lists, evaluations and school inspection. After trends of decentralization, managerialism and marketization, re-regulation efforts have seen the light to hold education providers accountable, whether public or private (Ozga et al. 2011; Ehren et al. 2013). The politics of comparison and governing by numbers is particularly visible in the media, for example, the media regularly reports on international rankings of pupil results as well as inspection reports and complaints resulting in a complex audit-media relationship (Rönnberg, Lindgren and Segerholm 2013). The re-regulation of a far-reaching decentralized and marketized school system with publicly funded for-profit free schools makes Sweden a unique case with both its egalitarian and social democratic traditions combined with neo-liberal trends. The introduction of the new centralized agency The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (SSI) can be viewed in the light of increased emphasis on state control, evaluation and accountability. For the SSI issues of equivalence and the individual right of the student have been stressed. Issues of quality and equivalence has a tendency to be framed as a legal issue (Lindgren et al. 2012). This seems to reflect a process of juridification (Magnussen and Banasiak 2013). However, the sanctions available to the SSI have been limited. Not until the implementation of the reformed school act in 2011 did it have the means to impose fines or mandate to temporarily shut down schools, apart from withdrawing schools permits from free-schools. Studies have shown that an effective sanction available for the SSI, previously, has been media exposure (Rönnberg, Lindgren and Segerholm 2012).
The interconnectedness of marketization, central stat control, juridification and mediatization can be explored in the case of the school Lundsberg vs the Inspectorate. Lundsberg is one of three free-schools that is allowed to have student fees, unlike other schools. It also receives specific state funding due to it being a boarding school for students with parents living abroad. The school has a long history previous to the introduction of school choice and free-schools in Sweden and is known as a school for a privileged elite. It has a long history of problems with bullying, abuse and initiations. This is what started the Inspectorates inspection in 2011 after a filed complaint. After a long process of inspection, the SSI end the inspection in spring 2013. However, when the school start again the same autumn one of the students were burnt with an iron. The SSI then closed the school and every student was sent home. This was a major media story. Lundsberg, however, appealed and the court ruled in the interest of the school as the actual event took place in the dormitory and not during school activities. The aim is to analyse this case as it is represented in the media with a focus on how student rights are framed and how the Inspectorate and the school is represented. By doing so I hope to facilitate a deeper discussion about juridification and mediatization in the European governance trends of marketization and audit. Theoretically, the analysis draws on literature in the field of the wider audit society (Power 1997; Dahler-Larsen 2012) and school inspection (Clarke 2008; Ozga et al. 2011) as well as literature on mediatization (Levin 2004; Lingard and Rawolle 2004; Strömbäck 2009; Rawolle 2010). Mainly my interest lies in the aspect of governing and how it shapes our views on responsibility and rights, the relationship between individual and state as well as education and politics.
Clarke, J. 2008. Perfomance paradoxes: The politics of evaluation in public services. In Public services inspection in the UK. Research highlights in social work 50, ed. H. Davis and S. Martin, 120-134. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Dahler-Larsen, P. 2012. The evaluation society. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Ehren, M. C. M., H. Altrichter, G. Mcnamara, and J. O’hara 2013. Impact of school inspections on improvement of schools—describing assumptions on causal mechanisms in six European countries. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 25, no. 1: 3-43. Foucault, M. 1991. Governmentality. In The Foucault effect. Studies in governmentality, ed. G. Burchell, C. Gordon and P. Miller, 87-104. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Levin, B. 2004. Media–government relations in education. Journal of Education Policy, 19, no. 3: 271-283. Lindgren, J., A. Hult, C. Segerholm, and L. Rönnberg 2012. Mediating school inspection: Key dimensions and key words in the official Swedish discourse 2003-2010. Education Inquiry, 3, no. 4: 569-590. Lingard, B., and S. Rawolle 2004. Mediatizing educational policy: The journalistic field, science policy, and cross‐field effects. Journal of Education Policy, 19, no. 3: 361-380. Magnussen, A.-M., and A. Banasiak 2013. Juridification: Disrupting the relationship between law and politics? European Law Journal, 19, no. 3: 325-339. Ozga, J., P. Dahler-Larsen, C. Segerholm, and H. Simola Eds. 2011. Fabricating quality in education. Data and governance in Europe. London: Sage. Power, M. 1997. The audit society. Rituals of verification. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rawolle, S. (2010). Understanding the mediatisation of educational policy as practice. Critical Studies in Education, 51(1), 21-39. Rönnberg, L., J. Lindgren, and C. Segerholm 2013. In the public eye: Swedish school inspection and local newspapers: Exploring the audit–media relationship. Journal of Education Policy, 28, no. 2: 178-197. Strömbäck, J. 2009. Makt, medier och samhälle. En introduktion till politisk kommunikation. Stockholm: SNS Förlag.
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