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Organizational challenges for schools in rural municipalities: cross-national comparisons in a Nordic context
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic and social geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5672-4003
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6557-3876
2015 (English)In: Journal of Research in Rural Education, ISSN 1551-0670, E-ISSN 1551-0670, Vol. 30, no 6, 1-14 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this study, the spatial structure of primary schools and alternative organizational frameworks are studied in a number of rural municipalities in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The aim of the study is to investigate how the spatial structure of schools has changed between the years 2008 and 2013 in these municipalities, what strategies the municipalities have developed to adapt their schools to changing conditions, and what constraints there are to apply the strategies at the local level. To answer these questions, semi-structured interviews with municipal representatives were conducted. Substantial changes to the spatial structure of school organizations through closures and mergers can be observed. The overall strategy for the future in all three national settings is a spatial structure with well equipped and well staffed schools in municipal centers and as few small village schools as possible, using information and communication technology (ICT) as a distance-bridging technology. The constraints to applying these strategies are on three different spatial levels. At the state level, the state places constraints regarding what municipalities and schools can and cannot do. At the municipal level, local politicians do not want to close schools for fear of losing the next election. At the community level, the constraints mainly lie in the resistance and strong social capital of the inhabitants who are focused on keeping their schools open irrespective of per capita costs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Penn State University Press, 2015. Vol. 30, no 6, 1-14 p.
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-103964OAI: diva2:905290
Interreg Botnia-Atlantica project “Learning about Development in Botnia-Atlantica.”

Sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund, County Administrative Board of Västerbotten, Regional Council of Ostrobothnia, Vasa University, Åbo Academy, and Umeå University.

Available from: 2016-02-22 Created: 2015-06-04 Last updated: 2016-03-03Bibliographically approved

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