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Revisiting the education policy agora: On politics of knowledge and evidence 1998 – 2018 in Sweden.

Wed, April 17, 10:00 to 11:30am, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Street (Level 0), Plaza


The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyze changes at the education policy agora (Nowotny et al, 2001). In focus are discursive positions and arguments in educational governance during two periods; 1998-2001 and 2016 -2019. The place is (mostly) Sweden as a welfare state under restructuring. We have materials from research that we have carried out during these two periods, For the first period, see e.g. Lindblad & Popkewitz, (1999; 2001 a,b,c) and Lindblad & Lundahl (2002) presenting a ten-country study on educational governance and social inclusion/exclusion, dealing with case studies, interviews with teachers and school leaders as well as policy-makers and top administrators. A special interest was here policy reasoning and knowledge problematics, which made us study categorizations and taxonomies in statistics (Popkewitz & Lindblad, 2001) .
The study of the last period is in a way a continuation of the first one, but it is at present focusing on Sweden in in international contexts. Here we have a similar design of interviews with policy-makers and top administrators plus discourse analyses, but we have a special interest in comparative education research and international large scale assessments (Lindblad, Pettersson & Popkewitz, 2018) and their impact at the education agora.
From our analyses of policy documents and interviews we conclude that in both the first and the second period statistics played a vital part and that population taxonomies matter in education policy reasoning and problematization, e.g. in terms of student dropout. But we found distinct differences in what statistics is referring to. In 1999 resources for and in education had a focus on the input for education, e.g. expenditures and resources for education, while in 2018 a main focus concerned outcomes, such as school results and international comparisons.
We present and discuss such differences and discuss them as changes in educational preconditions as well as in educational reasoning at the education policy arena. To analyze and understand such changes is vital for grasping the changing social meaning of educational research and for examining preconditions for researching education.