23 SES 13 B, Media and Politics in Education
Without doubt the media attention to educational comparisons and league tables has increased during the last decades as well as the impact on the national agenda concerning education (Grek, 2009, Meyer Benavot, 2013). In particular the results from the PISA’s surveys get much publicity, not only because of the high number of participating countries but also a because of an elaborated media strategy to communicate the results. In Sweden the interest for ranking of education has especially focused on the unprecedented decline in results among Swedish school pupils in international surveys, in particular the results in PISA 2010 and 2013..
The aim of this paper is to analyse and discuss how international and national comparisons of education are represented in Swedish media. Our point of departure is that representations in media are not only mediating information from a sender to a receiver, but influence on how the results are perceived, how they are interpreted, and how they can be used to legitimize changes in the educational policy.
The results of the educational surveys are mostly represented in news articles and editorials, but polemical articles and letters to the press represent an increasing proportion of the media coverage. Especially many of the letters to the press, but also the polemical articles are written by national actors with links to organizations or institutions such as the state, municipals, political parties, trade unions as well as parents’ organizations. In many cases the results are used in order to promote proposals to change the educational policy or to support some ideas, not necessarily linked to the survey per se.
Our research questions are:
Which actors are engaged in the published texts and for which communicative purposes are the educational ranking lists used?
What kind of strategies can we identify in relation to education and policy?
Finally, how can the role of the media attention regarding educational surveys and rankings be considered?
As theoretical framework mediatization theories provide ways to understand the changing role of media in the sense that media in an increasing degree is intertwined with different practices in society. While Hjarvard (2004) distinguish between stronger or weaker mediatization, Meyer (2002) and Stromback (2008) emphasize that mediatization is an ongoing process that can be divided in four different phases. Meyer distinguishes between media logic and political logic. In the first phase mass media is dominating as source for information but the independence is low, politics is mediated and follow a political logic. In the second phase of mediatization media are more independent from governmental or political interests, and can decide what to publish and what is considered to be appropriate. In the third phase medias independence force political and other actors to adapt to the media logic. As a consequence media considerations become an important part in policy-making. In the forth phase the media and media logic are with Meyer’s (2002) expression colonizing politics.
Grek,S. (2009). Governing by Numbers: The PISA Effect in Europe. Journal of Education Policy 24:23-37. Hjarvard, S. (2004) From Bricks to Bytes: The Mediatization of a Globla Toy Industry. In European Culture and the Media ed. Ib Bondebjerg & Peter Golding. Bristol: Intellect Books Hjarvard, S. (2013) The mediatization of culture and society. London: Routledge. Meyer, H. & Benavot, A. (2013) Pisa and the Globalization of Education. Puzzles and Problems. In H. Meyer & A Benavot (eds) PISA, Power and Policy: The emergence of Global Educational Governancee.. Oxford: Symposium Books. Meyer, T. (2002). Media Democracy. How the Media Colonize Politics. Cambridge: Polity Strömbäck, J. (2008) Four phases of mediatization: An analysis of the mediatization of politics. The International Journal of Press/Politics. July 2008 vol 13 no. 3, 226-246.
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