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’Market relevance’ and the academic-vocational divide.

Chapter in book
Authors Mattias Nylund
Published in Neoliberalism and market forces in education: Lessons from Sweden. M. Dahlstedt & A. Fejes (eds)
Pages 93-106
ISBN 9781138600881
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication London
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Pages 93-106
Language en
Keywords vocational education, social class, curriculum, market relevance,
Subject categories Pedagogy, Educational Sciences

Abstract

If Swedish education policy in the post-war period were to be characterized by a few governing principles, ‘integration’ would be one of them. Two symbolic reforms for this development were the comprehensive school reform in 1962 and the integrated upper-secondary school in 1971, both aimed at creating a more integrated education system with equalizing effects between social groups. Since the 1990s these principles have largely been marginalized in favour of principles derived from neoliberal ideology. An area heavily influenced by neoliberal ideology is upper secondary school, especially vocational programs. Since the latest upper-secondary school reform (2011), the content of the vocational programs is heavily influenced by employers' demand with student's ‘employability’ as the dominant goal. This is an expression of an international policy trend in which a principle of ’market relevance’ steers vocational education. This steering of upper secondary school is working as a strongly differentiating force. The present chapter sheds light on how knowledge is contextualised and distributed through curricula when upper secondary vocational education is guided by a principle of ‘market relevance’ and what this means for society's social distribution of knowledge and social stratification.

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