23 SES 09 A, New Forms of Governance in School Education (Part 2)
Paper Session continues from 23 SES 08 A
As the importance of transnational arenas and actors in governing education has increased over the last decades there has been a growing number of studies trying to conceptualise the ‘soft power’ exercised by these actors. Important contributions have been made in order to understand these new governance practices stated in terms of ‘governing at a distance’, ‘governing by numbers’ and/or ‘governing by inspection’, all of them emphasising that it has to do with governance exercised without legal power. This is also the rationale behind the starting point of this paper. The aim of this paper is not primarily to find a new way to conceptualise these governance practices but to show how these practices in recent years have come to accommodate a growing number of constituents traditionally associated with legal government such as curriculum guidelines and policy instructions. The emergence of a European ‘crisis discourse’ from the mid 00s and onwards is discussed as an important reason why new governance strategies have been developed to strengthen central control over national educational reforms in Europe. Discussing the governance exercised by the European Union in this paper in terms of ‘governing by instruction’ is an attempt to complement rather than replace previous conceptualisations and to problematise the emergence of new forms of central control and direct involvement from the European Commissions in policy making in the member states. In order to follow the process from the EU to the member state level Sweden serves as a national example. The paper draws on two kinds of empirical material, partly on an analysis of central official policy documents produced by the EU and the Swedish government and partly by documents related to the development, communication and implementation by the European Commission of country-specific recommendations, using Sweden as the national policy arena. Theoretically the paper draws on earlier work on Europeanisation in education (Lawn & Lingard 2002; Grek 2008; Grek & Lawn 2009; Lawn 2011; Lawn & Grek 2012) where Europeanisation is understood as a general process towards a strengthened coordination of national educational policies.
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