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Crisis as discursive legitimation strategy in educational reforms
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of pedagogy.
2013 (English)In: ECER 2013, Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research: Network: 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education, 2013Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The increased intensity of reform during the late 1990s has accentuated questions of how to understand and conceptualise the governing of the educational field. New infrastructures were built up beside old ones and the role of transnational, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) increased, also when it came to such national concerns as education. Lawn & Lingard (2002) speak about the EU in terms of such a European policy field where the common goal of making Europe the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world, launched by the European Council in theLisbonstrategy in the year 2000 played an important role. But the lack of success in steering the member states towards the objectives set up by the European Council soon led to an emerging crisis discourse within the EU (Robertsson 2008; Nordin 2011). Also in the Swedish context a crisis discourse emerged during the last decade where Swedish children were said to fall behind other comparable countries in knowledge assessments such asPISA, TIMSS and PIRLS (Nordin 2012). In this paper the crisis discourse will bee analysed in order to find out to what extent and in what ways it is used as a way to legitimise educational reforms within the EU and inSweden. I will also discuss what implicit ideas of time, choices and standardised procedures that are embedded in the discourses and what specific conditions they create.

 

Discursive institutionalism (Schmidt, 2008) is used as an overall theoretical framework. Schmidt (2008) makes a distinction between a coordinative and acommunicative discourse. The coordinative where policy actors such as government officials, policy consultants, experts, lobbyist and others coordinate policy ideas as members of transnational epistemic communities sharing a set of cognitive and normative ideas of education. The communicative discourse takes place in the public sphere and involves “the presentation, deliberation and legitimation of political ideas to the general public” (Schmidt 2008, p 310). Discourse matters, so to speak, because it elaborates ideas and persuades others of the necessity and/or the appropriateness of a given course of action. As a complement to the coordinative and communicative discourse the concept of Europeanization (Lawn & Lingard, 2002; Grek & Lawn, 2009; Lawn, 2011) is also used in order to enable an analysis that looks into the relationship between the EU and the nation-state and to what extent and in what ways the two policy arenas converge and/or diverge. 

Method

Critical discourse analysis is used as method in the study Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999; Wodak, 2008. Reisigl (2008) talks about four different categories of discursive strategies which I use when analyzing the policy texts. The first one is nomination and has to do with how different people, groups and/or phenomenon are described. The second one is predication and has to do with the positive and/or negative attributes made to these discursively constructed persons and/or phenomenon. Argumentation has to do with what kinds of arguments are used to legitimise and/or delegitimize different positions. Perspectivation focuses the starting points from which the three strategies above are based. The texts analysed in this study are central official policy texts produced by the EU, such as the Lisbon strategy, the Kok-report and the Europe 2020 and central Swedish curriculum policy texts connected to the two latest reforms of the comprehensive school in 1994 and 2011.

Expected Outcomes

The result indicates that there is a shift around the mid 00s from a risk to a crisis theme applicable to both the European and the Swedish arena. The crisis that the EU was considered to be in is mainly described as a structural problem due to the aging population and lack of competitiveness on the global market. Also in Sweden the result indicates a shift towards growing crisis rhetoric but here it seems to be described more as a professional problem. The curriculum Lpo 94 was said to be to ideological, diffuse and difficult to interpret as to why the teachers had not been able to ensure an egalitarian education. The Swedish results in international knowledge assessments like PISA and TIMSS the result also contributed to the formation of a national crisis discourse. So the result indicates how the crisis theme is becoming increasingly important as a legitimizing strategy in European education reforms. This development results in a reform process characterized by a more retrospective perspective than before, where the main challenge lies in the possibilities of resolving a crisis that has already occurred rather than planning for the future.

References

Chouliaraki, Lilie & Fairclough, Norman (1999). Discourse in late modernity. Rethinking critical discourse analysis. Edinburgh: Edinburgh university press. Grek, Sotiria & Lawn, Martin (2009). A Short History of Europeanizing Education. European Education, 41(1), 32-54. Lawn, Martin (2011). Standardizing the European education policy space. European Educational Research Journal, 10(2), s 259-272. Lawn, Martin & Lingard, Bob (2002). Constructing a European Policy Space in Educational Governance: the role of transnational policy. European Educational Research Journal, 1(2), s 290-307. Nordin, Andreas (2011). Making the Lisbon strategy happen. A new phase of lifelong learning discourse in European policy? European Educational Research Journal, 10(1), s 11-20. Nordin, Andreas (2012). The politics of knowledge – A study of knowledge discourses in Swedish and European education policy. Linnaeus University Dissertations No97/2012. Reisigl, Martin (2008). Analyzing political rethoric. . I: Wodak, Ruth & Krzyzanowski, Michal (Eds.). Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the social sciences. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Robertson, Susan, L. (2008). Embracing the global: Crisis and the creation of a new semiotic order to secure Europe’s knowledge-based economy. I: Jessop, Bob, Fairclough, Norman & Wodak, Ruth (Eds.). Education and the Knowledge-based economy in Europe. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Schmidt, Vivien (2008). Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and Discourse. Annual Review of Political Science, 11, s 303-326.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Pedagogics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-28884OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-28884DiVA: diva2:648445
Conference
EERA/ECER 2013, 9-13 september i Istanbul
Available from: 2013-09-16 Created: 2013-09-16 Last updated: 2014-12-09Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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