23 SES 02 A, Markets and Consequences
Parallel Paper Session
With a critical approach the aim of this paper is to investigate how the relationship between upper secondary schools’ economical functions and students’ freedom of choice have been handled in Swedish educational policy between the 1960s and the 2010s.
In a society characterized of being both more and more knowledge intensive and differentiated in the labor market, education has become increasingly important for the capitalist states integrative functions as for the competitiveness in the global economy (Jessop, 2002). Parallel processes can be found in a European context. Different movements have resulted in the creation of supranational systems with the aims of converging nations’ education policy and comparing pupils’ knowledge standards on an international basis (Ringarp & Rothland, 2010). In other words – knowledge has become high politics (Apple, 2003).
This “economics of knowledge” is in no way a new phenomenon. The paper shows that the upper secondary education’s importance for a country's economic growth and international competitiveness is something that has been emphasized in the Swedish education policy since the 1960s until today (see for example the Committee reports SOU 1963:43, SOU 1992:94, SOU 2008:27). But what becomes important in this paper – in combination with such integrated pronounced intentions the upper secondary educational system also, to become legitimate, must comprise some differentiation principles. One is, as demonstrated in the paper, that the students must have an opportunity to choose direction and determine the formation and content of their education, so the schooling to some extent will correspond with students own aspirations and dreams. This freedom of choice has in last two decades also included the ability for students to choose between different schools, public as well as private ones (Lindensjö & Lundgren, 2000).
In this paper focus is directed towards how this relationship, i.e. the balance between the secondary school’s economic functions and students' ability to choose, has been handled in education policy over the period 1960-2010. How have students' abilities, or disabilities, to make rational choices been discussed in educational policy in different periods? And how have these individual aspirations been handled in relation to the upper secondary school’s important function to strengthen the nation economic growth and competitiveness?
In Sweden three major reform periods of the Swedish upper secondary school after the Second World War are distinguished. The first one in the 1960s, the second one in the 1990s and the third one in the 2010s. In each reform period a number of so-called “discursive breaks” in education policy have been identified where new ideas win legitimacy of how this relationship should be managed in an effective and legitimate way. Each reform period’s main documents (SOU 1963:43, SOU 1992:94 and SOU 2008:27) have been analyzed and compared in order to explicate these discursive shifts in regard to how education policy has attempted to manage this problem.
Apple, Michael (2003). The state and the politics of knowledge. London: Routledge Chouliaraki, Lilie & Fairclough, Norman (1999). Discourse in late modernity – Rethinking critical discourse analysis. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University press Fairclough, Norman (1992). Discourse and social change. Oxford: Polity Press. Jessop, Bob (2002). The future of the capitalist state. Cambridge: Polity Lindensjö, Bo & Lundgren, Ulf P (2000). Utbildningsreformer och politisk styrning. Stockholm: HLS. Ringarp, Johanna & Rothland, Martin (2010). “The effects of the PISA results on Education Debates in Sweden and Germany” European Educational Research Journal. Vol. 9, Nr. 3 SOU 1963:42. 1960 års gymnasieutredning. 4, Ett nytt gymnasium. Stockholm: Ecklesiastikdepartementet ( SOU 1992:94. Skola för bildning: Huvudbetänkande av Läroplanskommittén. Stockholm: Utbildningsdepartementet SOU 2008:27). Framtidsvägen – En reformerad gymnasieskola. Stockholm: Utbildningsdepartementet
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