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Parents, a Swedish problem: on the marginalisation of democratic parental involvement in Swedish school policy

Journal article
Authors Susanne Dodillet
Ditte Storck Christensen
Published in Comparative Education
ISSN 0305-0068
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Keywords parents, parental involvement, school, Sweden, professionalism, democracy, education, children
Subject categories History of Ideas, Educational Sciences


This article proposes that the scope for parental involvement is limited in the current Swedish school system, despite its claim to the highest level of democracy and its extensive marketisation and juridification. In order to define this deficit, we introduce the notion of democratic parental involvement. We further trace the history of the pronounced reluctance towards parents seeking to influence the education of their children in Swedish education policy since the 1940s. Three characteristic ideas in this policy are highlighted: (1) its concept of ‘democratic education’, (2) the idea of ‘the best interest of the child’ and (3) the concept of ‘the professional teacher’. We argue that these strands together make the idea of democratic parental involvement being a positive force in education virtually inconceivable.

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