19 SES 10 B, Professional Skills, Policies and Practice in Education
This paper is a result of a reanalysis of data from two larger studies in eight different schools in the south of Sweden (the schools ranged from primary and lower secondary schools up to upper secondary schools). In this particular paper we examine how the socio-political changes that have taken place in Sweden since the early nineties have affected teachers’ everyday lives in the schools we scrutinize. It aim to examine how local settings are intertwined with socio-political changes, and how this affects the way teachers understand and practise their work and (work correlated) relations.
A key point for regarding these changes in our analysis is the term fairness. In our previous studies we find that the ongoing changes in local school settings revolve around how (not if) practices are conceptualised (by the teachers) as fair or not. Fairness (understood as social practise) can put strong emphasis on collectivism, cooperation and compensation, but it can on the other hand also legitimize individualism, competition and efficiency. The strong notion of “branding” and individualisation in the schools we addresses can, as an example, be understood in terms of fairness. This connects to a political, economical and ideological theme that has been thoroughly discussed in previous research by for example Beach, (1999a, 1999b) and others. In the same way as schools become brands, teachers compete (and are expected to compete) with one another over limited resources. Apart from examine how reforms are enacted and affect the working lives of teachers; how relations between people structuring in chains of competition, we will discuss how this produces new kinds of self-relations.
We condense this two starting positions:
- From the Foucauldian conceptualisation of power comes on the one hand the notion that there are regulations that restrict certain actions: there are constraints on behaviour and social relations. This is obvious for a teacher since, as an employee, school regulations and national law prohibit certain acts or statements. On the other hand, certain behaviours or ways of responding to proposals are more beneficial than others: taking the lead in a school development project could most certainly be beneficial, both in terms of salary and in terms of future promotions.
- A second starting point is our interest in social relations, which becomes a field for manifestations of power in our study. It is possible to study different scenarios and transformations empirically in relations between people – between teachers; between teachers and pupils; as well as between teachers and school leaders/administrators. As a consequence of this perspective, organisational changes are visible as changes in relations between people.
References Beach, D. (1999a). Alienation and fetish in science education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 43(2), 157-172. Beach, D. (1999b). The problems of Education change: working from the ruins of progressive education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 43(3). Beach, D. (2013). Changing higher education: Converging policy-packages and experiences of changing academic work in Sweden. Journal of Educational Policy, 28(4), 517-533.
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