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Revisiting the Education Policy Agora: On Politics of Knowledge and Evidence 1998 - 2018 in Sweden

Conference contribution
Authors Sverker Lindblad
Lisbeth Lundahl
Published in Program Book Nordic Educational Research Association Meeting in Uppsala, 6-8 March
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Keywords Education Policy, Politics of Knowledge, Science and Society Interaction
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Pedagogy, International education


The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyze changes at the education policy agora (Nowotny et al, 2003). In focus are discursive positions and arguments in educational governance during two periods; 1998 - 2001 and 2016 - 2019, particularly in Sweden as a welfare state under restructuring. We build on research on educational governance and social inclusion/exclusion that we have carried out during these two periods. For the first period , see e.g. Lindblad, Lundahl, Lindgren & Zackari (2002) on the case of Sweden and Lindblad & Popkewitz, (2001) on a ten - country study, including the Swedish case. The empirical data consist of case studies, interviews with teachers and school leaders as well as leading policy - makers and top administrators. Our research interest concerned policy reasoning and know-ledge problematics, which also made us study categorizations and taxonomies in statistics (Popkewitz & Lindblad, 2001). The study of the second period departs from 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, and we conduct 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 in policy discourses ; population categorization and taxonomies matter in education policy reasoning and problem representations (Bacchi 1999), e.g. in terms of student dropout. However, we have found distinct differences in what statistics are referring to. In 1999, Resources for and in education had a focus on the education input, e.g. enrolment, expendi-tures and resources for education, while in 2018 a main focus concerned outcomes, such as school results and positioning in international comparisons. We present and discuss such differences as changes in educational preconditions as well as in educational reasoning at the education policy arena-

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