Educational equality has been a central tenet that has framed educational policy in Nordic welfare states, motivating school reforms in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the conceptualization of equality has fluctuated, reflecting the political climate in which the policy statements have been created. In this presentation, we analyse policy and curriculum documents in two Nordic countries concerning upper secondary education with a specific focus on vocational curricula from the 1970s to the 2010s, focusing on the aims and goals of educational equality and on what kind of idea about society these argumentations are based on.
The theoretical framework draws on Torsten Huséns (1975) concepts on possible ways to conceive equality: as a starting point; as a treatment; as a final goal or as assemblage of all these three. We also approach the question of educational equality by drawing on Nancy Fraser’s conceptualization on social justice. Fraser’s (1997; 2008) three-dimensional concept of social justice distinguishes economic, cultural and political injustice. The remedy for the first one is redistribution, for the second one recognition and for the third one representation. The political dimension of justice is a meta-level dimension, which defines who are those ones, entitled to just distribution and reciprocal recognition. Following Fraserian thinking we conceive curriculum documents as one of the sites where ‘struggles over distribution and recognition are played out’ (Fraser 2008, p.17).
We analyse policy and curricula documents, where value base, aims and goals of upper secondary education have been stated, paying attention to i) definition of the problem of equality ii) presuppositions that underlies the presented problem iii) conditions which produces particular representations of the problem iv) silences v) effects produced through the representations of the problem vi) production and ways to problematize the representation of the problem (Bacchi 2009).
Compared to Finland, Sweden has traditionally been more enthusiastic to promote educational equality. However, it can be argued that change has been more dramatic in Sweden compared to Finland in 1970-2010s. In both countries neo liberal reasoning has re-shaped the value base, aims and goals of education. In Sweden it has had a fundamental influence in how the structure of upper secondary education has been organized. Through the longitudinal data from two Nordic countries it is possible to analyse how neo-liberal reasoning has influenced these countries, which have a reputation as ideal countries in terms of educational equality. It is also possible to ask, whether there are differences how these Nordic countries imagine themselves as societies.
2017. 575-575 p.