School history, municipalities and geographical justice: Comparisons in time and space
2017 (English)In: Abstract book. NERA 2017. Learning and education - material conditions and consequences. Copenhangen, Denmark, 23-25 March, 2017, 2017, 159-160 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Research topic/aim The project Who governs the Swedish school? compares over-time variations in balance between municipal and national school governing in different Swedish municipalities. In times of increased globalization, the national level has been challenged as the prime unit of educational policy analysis, generating an increased interest for international policy studies. This has by time also led to stronger interests for regional-local policy making, but mainly towards contemporary conditions. Local school history research has been rare. (Roman et al. 2015). This paper contribute to curriculum theory by highlighting and theorizing local school activities and policy in a historical context, addressing the question: What is school-making in a municipal perspective? This focus helps to problematize the idea of school as a national unit. Theoretical framework A geo-historical perspective (cf. Linné 2012) enables an exploration of local school policy as a national reform component and as an autonomous force. This is a contribution to curriculum theory studies on educational change and stability in relation to societal prerequisites, following a Scandinavian tradition (cf. Dahllöf 1967, Lundgren 1972, Englund 1986). We elaborate on geographical justice, a concept partly linked to spatial justice (Soja 2010, Clement & Kanai 2015). Geographical justice works as a vehicle for historically defining and comparing different approaches to geographical asymmetries in terms of educational resources. Our comparisons illuminate municipal similarities and differences, by focusing local policy enactments on educational problems, located and relocated in different times and spaces (cf. Nóvoa & Yariv-Mashal 2003, Popkewiz et al 2001). Methodology/research design Our data mainly consist of municipal school policy archive documents from three case municipalities, representing three distinct municipal types. This material provides varied and detailed information on different local educational situations and initiatives, and on municipal-national relations. In addition, we use data from official and semi-official national sources. Expected conclusions/findings National school reforms always meet asymmetric local conditions. Urban and rural areas have different sets of educational resources and policy options. Big city areas differ substantially from smaller cities. Overall, there are both inter-municipal and intra-municipal differences. In Sweden, national school policy recipes for handling this asymmetry in order to promote geographical justice have varied. In the 1960s, centralization and standardization was expected to make school less dependent on geographical circumstances and socio-economic differences. In the 1990s, decentralization and consumer choice partly implied the opposite: asymmetry was moderately endorsed by allotting more organization responsibility to individuals, schools and municipalities. Our point is that school regardless of national strategies is always carried out in a local context, exceeding the municipality as a school organizer. We also stress the importance of the municipality as a school provider (for all schools within its borders) and as a supply of educational resources. These resources include educational infrastructures (i.e. formal and informal educational institutions, inhabitants educational capital), and specific policy actions taken in response to the local infrastructure. Historical comparative analyses taking all municipal dimensions into account contribute to curriculum theory-based research on school policy ambitions in relation to school practice. Especially, in Nordic countries with their long traditions of municipal self-government.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. 159-160 p.
School history, Sweden, governing, municipality, school policy
Research subject Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Pedagogics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-61698OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-61698DiVA: diva2:1084514
NERA 2017, 45th Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association. Copenhangen, Denmark, 23-25 March, 2017