Recent socio-economic changes, developments in school policy, and increased migration have added new dimensions to debates about educational inequalities. They concern one of the major challenges facing Sweden today, which is to offer all its students an equal education. What we know so far is that growing up in a disadvantaged neighbourhood with high rates of poverty, joblessness, and single parenthood are often used to explain lower levels of schooling, but that their mechanisms and interactions are not well understood. This is the focus of the present article. In it we use meta-ethnography to explore expressions about the education experiences of youths from suburban areas with high levels of unemployment and migration and educational performances lower than the national average to try to cast further light on these problems. We suggest that the common arguments used to account for the problem of school performance are strongly correlated with proficiency in the language of instruction and socio-economic conditions, but that these factors cannot account for the full extent of the problem. What it means to live within specific multicultural urban contexts is important as is the segregation and media representation of these areas and those who live in them.
The aim of this article is to explore how teachers construct identity and meaning in their responsibility to meet students’ requirements for successful learning outcome in school. The study is based on interviews with teachers from seven lower and upper secondary schools in Norway. To capture teacher perceptions of commitment, Fairclough’s concept of “discursive practice” has been used to identify teacher reflections on professional identity and professional positioning. Narrative interviews provided accounts of experiences, focusing on production, distribution, and consumption of texts situated in school settings. The teachers’ sense of effectiveness in professional lives seems to be connected to a mix of both internal institutional relations and external expectations and demands.
In recent decades, the Swedish educational system has become an expanding ‘school market’. The free school choice, the voucher system, and a rapid increase in upper secondary schools, have paved the way for strong competition between schools. Based on interviews with 77 upper secondary school students, this article aims to explore student perspectives on the increasing marketisation of education in Sweden with particular focus on their school choices and competition between schools. The findings show that market forces have an impact on the every-day student school life. Many students found it hard to navigate the ‘sea of options’ and asked for as much objective information as possible, in order to avoid inadequate or wrong decisions. In line with greater competition between schools, many students tended to choose “safe options” in order to avoid schools running the risk of bankruptcy or closing down. The analysis indicates that the students, both in their choices of schools and in their present situation as school marketers, promote segregation trends.
The article highlights similarities in the politics and practices linked to gender equality in education in Finland and Sweden from the 1970s to the 2010s, with special consideration given to the alliance between heteronormativity and marketisation as well as their influence. State and gender equality project documentation is analysed. In both countries, the main focus of attention has, in line with heteronormativity, been on the labour market and the directing of the girls towards science and technology, along with publicly funded, short-term projects. The results indicate that the alliance between heteronormativity and marketisation has increasingly reproduced the genders as competing dichotomous categories with one sex losing to the benefit of the other.
The article elaborates on young people’s sense of cultural belonging, based on interviews held with 41 pupils with an immigrant background. All of the interviewees lived in the suburbs of a Norwegian town and attended schools where the majority of pupils were ethnic Norwegians. The article focuses both on how the young people constructed themselves in terms of cultural belonging and their experiences of inclusion in peer groups. The findings reveal that the sense of cultural belonging among pupils was closely linked to their parents’ cultural origins, and that the pupils’ social and cultural practices functioned as key to their inclusion in or exclusion from their peer community.
In the current article, we explore educational practises in terms of the transition from pre-primary education to compulsory schooling. Our cross-cultural analysis is based on two ethnographic studies conducted in three educational institutions providing pre-primary education: two in Finland and one in Sweden. The analysis is guided by feminist theories intertwined with contextualised, ethnographic perspectives. In pre-primary education, children’s actions and ways of being were continuously under evaluation in terms of their future as ‘professional pupils’. These data reveal particular evaluations on children in terms of their ways of acting and being constructed as ‘ideal’. These evaluations are often based on expectations of essential differences between boys and girls, even in Sweden, where the curriculum encourages educational staff to deconstruct gender divisions and provides guidelines for promoting gender equality.
Nøkkelord: gender, equality, pre-primary education, cross-cultural analysis