The aims of this article are (1) to describe features of Swedish education politics over a 25 year period, with a focus on the 1990s and the first years of the 21st Century, and (2) to discuss how education politics relate to the socio-economic changes which have taken place during the last 10-15 years. Three time periods, based on the prevailing view of education governance and the role of the State, are identified: 1975-1990, 1991-1998 and 1999-2002, respectively. For each period, the context/agenda, processes and outcomes of education policy are discussed. The article is based on statistical data, public reports, policy documents and interviews with central and local actors in the field of education. It is concluded that access to education has increased at all levels during the last 25 years. However, young people's transition to the labour market takes place later, has become more complicated, and in reality requires successful completion of at least upper-secondary education. In the wake of reductions, decentralization and deregulation of education, the differences and divisions between municipalities, schools and different pupils have increased. It is argued that active efforts to counteract such tendencies were weak in the 1990s, and that education politics may instead have reinforced social division and exclusion.
2002. Vol. 17, no 6, 687-697 p.