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Social justice and the free school choice: A theoretical discussion on the policy of free school choice in Sweden
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of pedagogy. (SITE)
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research Topic: Issues of social justice has recently become political dynamite in Europe and in Sweden, especially due to humanitarian disasters and a large reception of refugees. The opportunities for individuals and groups to affect their lives and participate in various communities largely depend on socially equitable arrangements. Thus, the legitimacy of any democratic education system must rest on principles that is considered somewhat socially just (Allen & Rech, 2013; Gutmann, 1999). It is therefore urgent, as Cribb and Gewitz (2003; Gewirtz, 1998) states, to widen reflections concerning the establishment of socially just arrangements in education. One way is to explore implications of theoretical justice conceptions. In this paper focus is directed to the case of the free school choice – a reform, whose segregating effects has been discussed and also critized over recent years, by domestic investigators (IFAU 2014a, 2014b; SOU, 2016:38) and researchers (Blomquist & Rothstein, 2008; Böhlmark & Lindahl, 2007), as of transnational policy actors (OECD, 2015). However, the reform gains strong support by parents, and has barely been questioned by political parties. Aim: The overall aim of this paper is, with inspiration from John Rawls theory of justice as fairness, to conduct a theoretical discussion concerning the justice dimensions of the free school choice. The research question is: How can one understand the social justice implications of the free school choice, when explored from John Rawl’s theory of justice? Theoretical frameworks and research design: The analysis consists of three parts. First, to discuss the philosophical issue of what social justice might be, I present the alternative offered by John Rawls (1971/2005, 2001). I outline the fundamental principles of Rawls theory of justice as fairness, and what aspects of the free school choice policy that becomes critical, given the theory’s concepts. Secondly, with the empirical issues generated by the theory, I conduct an analysis in which I highlight the justice dimensions of the free school choice as they are reflected in policy documents on both national (SOU 2016:38) and transnational level (OECD, 2012, 2015). Finally, I discuss if, and if so how, the free school choice could be understood and organized in line with Rawls difference principle, stipulating that inequalities can be permitted if they also promote the societies least advantaged. The study is based upon a constructivist-discursive view (Jörgensen & Phillips, 2002). Thus, the knowledge claim is not do depict reality ”as it is”, but rather to visualize the justice discources in education policy and the possible knowledge benefits of bringing a philosophical perspective to the table. Expected findings and their relevance for Nordic educational research: The result of the analysis shows the strengths and weaknesses of Rawls theory of justice in relation to the policy of free school choice. The analysis also highlights the discursive interplay between transnational and Nordic educational policy. The main contribution is that the study emphasizes end exemplifies the importance of theoretical reflection regarding justice issues in and for today’s democratic education system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-77966OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-77966DiVA, id: diva2:1250445
Conference
The 45th Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA). Copenhagen, Denmark. 23-25 March 2017
Available from: 2018-09-24 Created: 2018-09-24 Last updated: 2018-10-30Bibliographically approved

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Gustavsson, Erik

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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Output format
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