The impact of political changes in the Swedish education system

Year: 2012

Author: Öhrn, Elisabet, Beach, Dennis, Dovemark, Marianne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper takes as its starting point changes to the Swedish education system in recent decades. It aims to analyse their implications for education, schools and various groups of actors. Three broad themes guide the formulation of the text. These are:

1) The sociology and politics of teacher education policy change

2) Systemic changes in education and their consequences

3) Schooling and society seen from perspectives of social inclusion, social justice and social reproduction

Regarding the first theme, research has concentrated on common elements that can be identified regarding teacher education programmes and their development. It has shown that up until relatively recently, a general aim in Sweden and elsewhere has been to develop a solid foundation of scientific professional knowledge for what Basil Bernstein called the teacher education Trivium. However, a more recent development is to reverse this trend through a re-emphasis of academic subjects. The second theme focuses on learning practices and learner identities. A main concern here is for how recent policy changes have been enacted in schools and classrooms and what effects this enactment seems to have had inside the performative cultures of modern schools. Important race, class and gender differences have been uncovered and will be discussed. In relation to the third theme the paper focuses on the way education is described as an experience and possibility 'from below', especially by pupils who grow up and study in schools in the most segregated and territorially stigmatised areas of Swedish cities. In the paper we will also address issues of methodology in relation to the above, particularly from the point of ethnographic research.