02 SES 08 A, Transitions: Individual and Systemic Perspectives on VET
The research on vocational education and training from a historical perspective traditionally has a strong emphasis on institutional change. The theoretical approaches are mainly drawn from economics and institutional theory. However, there has been an increasing interest in the cultural aspects of vocational education and training (VET) which seek to deepen the understanding of the VET. The contextual dependence of concepts like “labor” and “skill” are examples of important factors conditioning the VET. (Clarke & Winch ed. 2007) I´d like to describe this as a movement in historical research on VET from focus on the system – the outside of the schools – to a focus on social structures, the inside of the schools. This is needed in order to examine the inner life of VET and its conditions - an important piece in the puzzle of VET history. This paper aim to contribute to this research field by examining some empirical indications of symbolic capital development in the 20th century Swedish vocational education and training. The aim of this paper is to explore or “try out” the concept of symbolic capital on the earlier Swedish VET system in order to shed light on the efforts to gain recognition for the vocational education and training on its own merits. The historical perspective allows for important questions to be asked and explored. The Swedish case of changing path, i.e. replace a market related VET model constructed in the reform of 1918 with a centralized state governed model in 1971 provides an interesting opportunity to investigate if and how conditions for the recognition of VET and its status in society is related to the model it self as well as the historical context in which it develops. A look into the rear mirror on the symbols, narratives and ceremonies of the early VET structure in Sweden reveals differences from the modern VET in regard of social and cultural conditions for the recognition of VET and the symbolic values possible to attain through education.
The change from one model to another meant that the Swedish VET, in 1971, became integrated in the same national education system as the academic educations (Nilsson 2010). The concept of field in this paper provides the background structure for the analysis of the process of generating symbolic capital. In the sociological tradition of Bourdieu, field has been defined or used as a system of relations and positions occupied by people and institutions that combat over something in common to them (Broady 1998). In this case the struggle to define quality vocational knowledge, to create hierarchies based on education related to vocations and professions in the trades and industries. Academic educations investigated from this theoretical perspective has generated some interesting results on the function of education and how it produces and reproduces class structures in society. As interesting as this may be the VET, if at all included in the studies, is rarely considered in its own right and the unique conditions of this kind of education is overlooked (Berner 1989).
Berner, Boel (1989). Kunskapens vägar: teknik och lärande i skola och arbetsliv. Lund: Arkiv. Broady, D. 1998 Kulturens fält en antologi [The field of culture an anthology] Göteborg: Daidalos Burke, Catherine & Grosvenor, Ian (2008). School. London: Reaktion. Clarke, Linda & Winch, Christopher (red.) (2007). Vocational education: international approaches, developments and systems. New York: Routledge. Lawn, Martin & Grosvenor, Ian (red.) (2005). Materialities of schooling: design, technology, objects, routines. Oxford: Symposium Books. Nilsson, Anders (2010). “From one model to the other: Swedish vocational education and training in the twentieth century.” i Utbildningens sociala och kulturella historia: meddelanden från den fjärde nordiska utbildningshistoriska konferensen. Uppsala.
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