23 SES 08 A, Policy Reforms and Implementation Processes
Along the contemporary international issue on improving student results and worries about children being educated enough and correctly the other major issue in education policy is improving children’s rights and guaranteeing a safe learning environment free from abuse, harassment, discrimination and bullying (Hetzler and Flaherty 2016). Children’s rights and integrity have been on the political agenda for a long time and in Sweden there is a far reaching consensus when it comes to strengthening pupil’s rights (Englund 2011). Complaints about degrading treatment or behaviour to the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (SSI) and the Child and School Student Representative (CSSR) for equal rights have increased steadily (Carlbaum 2016) and many political initiatives have been taken in order to strengthen and protect pupil’s rights in school. Compared to other European countries Swedish schools to an increasing degree are affected by the Education Act and Ordinance, not least when it comes to school inspection (Baxter and Hult Forthcoming). New legislation (liability, complaint management, reporting obligation etc) and strengthened agencies (SSI and CSSR) have caused major changes in the important part of life young people spend in compulsory education. Overall this can be a positive development; many pupils are eventually given redress and compensation. At the same time there are indications that these new judicial forms of work against degrading behaviour implicate problematic consequences when it comes to the affect and formation of young people’s development (Hult and Lindgren 2016). School personnel give witness of an evolving “litigation mentality” (Simpson 1998) that produces fear and insecurity and affect the possibilities to work on pupils’ democratic training (Reynaert, Bie and Vandevelde 2012).
This paper is part of an ongoing project studying previously unexplored effects and consequences of new forms of work against degrading treatment with a focus on children’s socialization and identity development through interviews with children, parents, school staff, principals and municipal officials. In this paper we focus on a pre-study describing the legal regulations that now forms the external context for schools in their work against degrading treatment, bullying and harassment. By studying one municipality and a sample of schools we give an example of how this policy is enacted on a local level. We do this to facilitate a discussion on policies against degrading treatment in a European context with different historical, contemporary and contingent welfare states, individualism and rights-based approaches and legalism.
Theoretically, we draw on theories that allows us to explore local enactment of education policy and legal regulation. Conceptually, enactment describes a move away from conventional ideas of implementation that “bring together contextual, historic and psychosocial dynamics into a relation with texts and imperatives to produce action and activities that are policy” (Ball, Maguire & Braun 2012, p. 71). For our purposes however, enactment do not offer analytical precision for empirical exploration. Organizational institutionalism offers an umbrella perspective to understand organizational processes, actions, behaviour, stability, resistance in relation to rules and norms as both a product of and on-going production of shared systems of meaning concerning complex means and ends (Scott, 1995). Notions of institutional complexity and institutional logics draws attention to how school actors’ at different levels; their professional lives, actions and beliefs are framed by conflicts in times of juridification. Responses to such complexity might be played out differently and in order to understand variation ideas on filters, segmenting, bridging and demarcating are helpful (Smets et al., 2015). Grid-group theory (Mamadouh,1999) finally, allows us to empirically reduce complexity into an integrated framework consisting of four ideal-types of “school cultures” with respect to how they are simultaneously enacted as a response to both external rules and internal dimensions.
Ball, S. J., M. Maguire, and A. Braun 2012. How schools do policy. Policy enactments in secondary schools. London: Routledge. Baxter, J., and A. Hult Forthcoming. Different systems, different identities: The work of inspectors in sweden and england. In School inspectors: Operational challenges in national policy contexts, ed. J. Baxter, London: Springer. Carlbaum, S. 2016. Do you have a complaint? Promoting individual rights in education. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 20(4), 3-26. Englund, T. Ed. 2011. Utbildning som medborgerlig rättighet. Föräldrarätt, barns rätt eller...? Göteborg: Daidalos. Hetzler, A., and C. Flaherty 2016. Guaranteeing social rights and regulating the public sector. European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, Online ahead of print, doi: 10.1080/23254823.2016.1253977. Hult, A., and J. Lindgren 2016. Med lagen som rättesnöre - kunskapsformer i lärares arbete mot kränkande behandling. [Judging by the (law)book: Knowledge forms in teachers' work against degrading behavior].Utbildning & Demokrati, 25(1), 73-93. Mamadouh, V. 1999. Grid-group cultural theory: an introduction, GeoJournal 47(3), 395-409 Reynaert, D., M. B.-D. Bie, and S. Vandevelde 2012. Between ‘believers’ and ‘opponents’: Critical discussions on children’s rights. The International Journal of Children's Rights, 20(1), 155-168. Scott, W.R. 1995. Institutions and organizations. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Simpson, C. 1998. Coping through conflict resolution and peer mediation. New York: Rosen Publishing Group. Smets, M., Jarzabkowski, P., Burke, G. T., & Spee, P. 2015. Reinsurance trading in Lloyd’s of London: Balancing conflicting-yet-complementary logics in practice. Academy of Management Journal, 58(3), 932-970.
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