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  • 1.
    Lappalainen, Sirpa
    et al.
    Department of Social Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Finland.
    Nylund, Mattias
    Department of Education and Special Education, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Rosvall, Per-Åke
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Imagining societies through discourses on educational equality: a cross-cultural analysis of Finnish and Swedish upper secondary curricula from 1970 to the 2010s2019In: European Educational Research Journal (online), ISSN 1474-9041, E-ISSN 1474-9041, Vol. 18, no 3, p. 335-354Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Educational equality has been a central tenet framing educational policy in Nordic welfare states and stimulating school reforms in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the conceptualisation of equality has fluctuated, reflecting the changing economic and political climate within which policy statements have been made. In this article, we analyse policy and curriculum documents relating to upper secondary education from the 1970s to the 2010s in two Nordic countries. Drawing on Nancy Fraser’s theorisation of different forms of injustice, we focus on the aims and goals that are attached to the concept of educational equality, analysing how ideas about society and educational equality have changed over these decades. Our analysis suggests that over this period there have been quite dramatic shifts in how equality is conceptualised, inter alia shifting from a focus on economic inequalities to questions of sexuality and ethnicity. Furthermore, ambitions about tackling economic inequality have largely been replaced with ambitions about promoting employability, which is particularly visible in the curriculum of vocational upper secondary education. The Finnish general upper secondary education (GUS) curriculum has gone against the tide. In the 1970s the GUS curriculum had the most conservative tone in terms of equality, whereas the current curriculum requires an agentic stance against discrimination and a critical stance towards marketisation.

  • 2.
    Ledman, Kristina
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Rosvall, Per-Åke
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Nylund, Mattias
    Göteborgs universitet.
    Gendered distribution of ‘knowledge required for empowerment’ in Swedish vocational education curricula?2018In: Journal of Vocational Education and Training, ISSN 1363-6820, E-ISSN 1747-5090, Vol. 70, no 1, p. 85-106Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Sweden is internationally commended for a high degree of gender equality, but many divisions in Swedish society, including the labour market, disadvantage women. This paper addresses gendered divisions of preparation for civic participation in the vocational upper secondary national curricula, which may participate in reproduction of the pattern. In a comparative analysis of the curriculum guidelines for different vocational upper secondary programmes, we focus on the inclusion of important knowledge for empowerment and how knowledge is contextualised in terms of valued labour positions. We deploy Bernstein’s concepts of horizontal and vertical discourse and Connell’s concepts of production, consumption and gendered accumulation. A general finding is that vertical discourse is contextualised towards discourses of consumption in girl-dominated programmes and towards discourses of production in boy-dominated programmes. Boy-dominated programmes include more knowledge that can be clearly classified in recognised disciplines or fields, whereas girl-dominated programmes include courses of undefined knowledge, such as creativity and entrepreneurship. We conclude that the vocational curricula reinforce rather than challenge existing gender structures in the labour market and wider society. In a historical perspective, it can be concluded that Swedish vocational education policy has a continuum of ‘gender-blindness', and thus confirming with wider norms.

  • 3.
    Nylund, Mattias
    et al.
    Göteborgs universitet.
    Ledman, Kristina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Rosvall, Per-Åke
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Rönnlund, Maria
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Child and Youth education, Special Education and Counselling.
    Socialisation and citizenship preparation in vocational education: Pedagogic codes and democratic rights in VET-subjects2019In: British Journal of Sociology of Education, ISSN 0142-5692, E-ISSN 1465-3346Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Previous studies of citizenship preparation in upper secondary school, including studies on vocational programmes, have primarily focused on general subjects. Potential and actual roles of vocational subjects in this context have received little attention, so we have little knowledge of what is likely a significant part of the citizenship preparation that occurs in vocational programmes. Drawing on the work of Basil Bernstein and ethnographic data, this study presents an analysis of socialisation processes in vocational elements of three vocational programmes in Swedish upper secondary school. The analysis addresses the formation of pedagogic codes in various vocational programmes and subjects, and how these codes condition students’ practice of citizenship at individual, social and political levels. The results show how different pedagogic codes have different implications for the students’ practice of citizenship, and thus raise questions about factors and processes that may either constrain or strengthen, this aspect in vocational subject classes.

  • 4.
    Nylund, Mattias
    et al.
    Göteborgs universitet.
    Rosvall, Per-Åke
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Vocational education, transitions, marginalisation and social justice in the Nordic countries2019In: European Educational Research Journal (online), ISSN 1474-9041, E-ISSN 1474-9041, Vol. 18, no 3, p. 271-277Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The five articles in this special issue present studies focusing on two key aspects of vocational education and transitions in the Nordic countries in relation to social justice: (a) impacts of policies and reforms on transitions and (b) content, practices, curriculum and equality. Collectively, the articles outline important similarities and differences between the countries and contribute, inter alia, to our understanding of the ‘academic–vocational divide’, the impact of neo-liberal steering on vocational education and transitions. They also develop bridges between different empirical contexts and theoretical ‘languages’ that may help efforts to understand and contextualise the current development of vocational education and transitions in the Nordic countries.

  • 5.
    Nylund, Mattias
    et al.
    Göteborgs universitet.
    Rosvall, Per-Åke
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Eiríksdóttir, Elsa
    University of Iceland.
    Holm, Ann-Sofie
    Göteborgs universitet.
    Isopahkala-Bouret, Ulpukka
    Niemi, Anna-Maija
    Gudrun, Ragnarsdottir
    The academic-vocational divide in three Nordic countries: implications for social class and gender2018In: Education Inquiry, ISSN 2000-4508, E-ISSN 2000-4508, Vol. 9, no 1, p. 97-121Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this study we examine how the academic–vocational divide is manifested today in Finland, Iceland and Sweden in the division between vocationally (VET) and academicallyoriented programmes at the upper-secondary school level. The paper is based on a critical re-analysis of results from previous studies; in it we investigate the implications of this divide for class and gender inequalities. The theoretical lens used for the synthesis is based on Bernstein´s theory of pedagogic codes. In the re-analysis we draw on previous studies of policy, curriculum and educational praxis as well as official statistics. The main conclusions are that contemporary policy and curriculum trends in all three countries are dominated by a neo-liberal discourse stressing principles such as “market relevance” and employability. This trend strengthens the academic–vocational divide, mainly through an organisation of knowledge in VET that separates it from more general and theoretical elements. This trend also seems to affect VET students’ transitions in terms of reduced access to higher education, particularly in male-dominated programmes. We also identify low expectations for VET students, manifested through choice of textbooks and tasks, organisation of teacher teams and the advice of career counsellors.

  • 6.
    Nylund, Mattias
    et al.
    Göterborgs universitet.
    Rosvall, Per-Åke
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Ledman, Kristina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    The vocational–academic divide in neoliberal upper secondary curricula: the Swedish case2017In: Journal of education policy, ISSN 0268-0939, E-ISSN 1464-5106, Vol. 32, no 6, p. 788-808Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A historical tension between a more general and a more specific focus in post-compulsory education is made visible in some educational systems by the division into more academic and more vocational programmes. Embedded in this tension are questions of social justice and the purposes of education. In addition, division into academic and vocational programmes has class dimensions since youth with working class backgrounds are often over-represented in vocational programmes. This study investigates how this tension is handled in the Swedish upper secondary curriculum, which reflects an international neoliberal policy trend in promoting competition, employability and employer influence over the curriculum. By analysing how the educational content of vocational educational and training (VET) programmes and higher educational preparatory (HEP) programmes is contextualised, we found that the two programme types were based on very different logics. In VET programmes, knowledge is strongly context-bound and often related to regulating behaviours. This contrasts sharply with the way knowledge is contextualised in HEP programmes in which less context-bound knowledge and skills such as using concepts, models and critical thinking are dominant. Students in VET programmes are trained to ‘do’ and to ‘adapt’, while the students in HEP programmes are trained to ‘think’ and to ‘imagine possibilities’. Thus, students from different social classes are prepared for very different roles in society.

  • 7.
    Rosvall, Per-Åke
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Ledman, Kristina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Nylund, Mattias
    Department of Education and Special Education, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Rönnlund, Maria
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Construction of ethnicity, immigration and associated concepts in Swedish vocational education and training2018In: Journal of Education and Work, ISSN 1363-9080, E-ISSN 1469-9435, Vol. 31, no 7-8, p. 645-659Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Surges of migration into Sweden and other European countries have raised needs to adjust civic education to provide Bernsteinian pedagogic rights of enhancement, participation and inclusion, both generally and in VET specifically. However, associated issues have received little research attention even in countries with colonial histories and longer traditions of immigration and non-native ethnic minorities. Moreover, most published empirical studies on race and ethnicity issues in VET have had Anglophone settings. Thus, research in other contexts is needed to broaden understanding and distinguish between general and context-specific aspects.

    This article addresses gaps in knowledge of the construction and significance of race and ethnicity in VET, particularly in Swedish contexts. First, it examines how critical understandings of being an immigrant, immigration and ethnicity are constructed in pedagogic practices in Swedish VET programmes, then analyses students’ and teachers’ discussion of these issues. Content related to immigration and ethnicity was sparse in monitored VET classes, but the presence of immigrants increased instances of both spontaneous and planned content. We conclude that pedagogic practices do not reflect the large increase in numbers of students in Swedish schools with immigrant backgrounds, and greater intercultural awareness is needed to safeguard their pedagogic and general democratic rights.

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