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Blir du anställningsbar lille/a vän?: Diskursiva konstruktioner av framtida medborgare i gymnasiereformer 1971-2011
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Are you Employable, Dearie? : Discursive Constructions of Future Citizens in Upper Secondary School Reforms 1971-2011 (English)
Abstract [en]

School is one of the most important institutions society has for fostering its future citizens. Education policy can be seen as an important arena for the discursive struggle over the meaning of education, not only what it is for, its goals and purposes, but also its deficiencies. Education policies are not mirrors of reality but include a power dimension in describing the problems to be solved. Thus, a specific question or a particular phenomenon is given a certain value and meaning. The different articulations involved in represen­tations of problems construct certain subject positions of citizenship which are not open for everyone. This makes it essential to deconstruct these gendered, racialized and classed subject positions. In the same way as in the beginning of the 1990s, the Swedish school system is currently facing changes. The most recent reform of upper secondary education, implemented in 2011, needs to be viewed in a historical perspective.

This thesis analyses discursive continuity and change with regard to representations of the problems, goals and purposes of upper secondary education during the period 1971-2011. Focus is also placed on changes and continuities in how the good future citizen is constructed and in what ways gender, class and ethnicity are produced in these constructions.

The theoretical framework is inspired and informed by discourse theory, feminist theory and theories on citizenship. Adopting this approach, I analyse government policy documents concerning upper secondary education reforms. The analysis shows not only changes, but also the importance of continuities in the dominating discourses of a school for all (1971-1989); a school for lifelong learning (1990-2005); and a school for the labour market (2006-2011). A shift from integration to differentiation is revealed in which the silencing of signifiers, such as democracy, equality and multiculturalism, lead to a risk of unequal opportunities for people to politicize their experience and situation. The previous demands for retraining and flexibility, for emancipation and lifelong learning are marginalised in favour of employability, skill supply and entrepreneurship. The constructions of good future citizens as consumers become instead constructions of citizens as products for business and growth. A male productive worker and male entrepreneur are constructed, privileging a white middle class. Neo-liberal and neo-conservative influences, reinforce the individual’s responsibility to become included in what is constructed as a desired citizenship.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2012. , 288 p.
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 2012:2
Keyword [en]
Citizenship, discourse, education policy, upper secondary education, gender, class, ethnicity, feminism, postcolonialism, intersectionality, Sweden
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-54360ISBN: 978-91-7459-400-3OAI: diva2:525483
Public defence
2012-06-08, Samhällsvetarhuset, Hörsal C, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-05-15 Created: 2012-04-24 Last updated: 2012-05-08Bibliographically approved

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