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Till nytta eller onytta: argument rörande allmänna ämnen i ungas yrkesutbildning i efterkrigstidens Sverige
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. (History and Education)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5222-6229
2014 (Swedish)In: Nordic Journal of Educational History, ISSN 2001-9076, Vol. 1, no 1, 21-43 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

General Subjects in Vocational Education and Training in Post-War Sweden

The present article focuses on the role of general subjects in the curriculum for vocational education and training (VET) in Swedish upper secondary schools after the Second World War. It shows that a steady increase in general VET subjects as a result of Social Democratic legislation in 1968 and 1991 was interrupted by a Liberal-Conservative government bill introduced in 2009, which led to a reduction. The rhetoric of these reforms is analyzed with the intent of increasing insight into the perceived educational benefits of general subjects in VET. The study employs the analytical lens of Gert Biesta and his proposed major functions of education: qualification, socialization, and sub-jectification. The results serve to illuminate the present-day educational po-licy debate, showing that the place of general subjects in the curriculum has been motivated by the important role they play in educating youth in demo-cracy, teaching them to function effectively in an increasingly international-ized and multicultural society and economy, for their lifelong learning and for the continued economic growth of the Swedish society. With the enactment of the government bill of 2009, however, the qualifying function of general subjects in VET was devaluated. The new curriculum that followed prioritized strictly vocational skills and the transition of graduates directly into the labour market.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Det utbildningshistoriska nätverket , 2014. Vol. 1, no 1, 21-43 p.
Keyword [en]
Vocational education and training, general subjects, curriculum reform, educational politics, upper secondary education
Keyword [sv]
Yrkesutbildning, allmänna ämnen, utbildningsreformer, utbildningspolitik, gymnasieskola
National Category
History Educational Sciences
Research subject
history of education
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-89304OAI: diva2:719770
Available from: 2014-05-27 Created: 2014-05-27 Last updated: 2015-02-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Historia för yrkesprogrammen: Innehåll och betydelse i policy och praktik
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Historia för yrkesprogrammen: Innehåll och betydelse i policy och praktik
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
History for Vocational Education and Training : Content and Meaning in Policy and Practice
Abstract [en]

This thesis offers critical perspectives on a history syllabus for vocational education and training (VET) tracks in Swedish upper secondary schools and adds to our knowledge and understanding of the educative function of history education for the individual and for society. The overall aim of this thesis is to critically investigate discourses that are voiced in different fields about the construction and reproduction of the history curriculum in VET tracks. A general question addressed is how vertical (critical and theoretical) and horizontal knowledge is articulated by the discourses in terms of the meaning of history in a VET context. The following four research questions were the focus of the four different studies in this thesis: How were non-vocational subjects discussed on a policy level during the post-war period, and what meanings were ascribed to history education? What aspects of history as a field of knowledge are recontextualised into a pedagogic discourse for the VET curriculum? How do teachers perceive the history syllabus? What do the students express concerning the history syllabus and history education? The results of these studies are reported in separate papers, and the aggregated results are analysed in this thesis. The data consisted of government bills and committee reports, material from the National Agency of Education archives, and interview data gathered through interviews with 5 teachers and 46 students. The major theoretical inspiration comes from Basil Bernstein whose theories of classification and framing, pedagogic discourse, pedagogic code, and vertical and horizontal discourses are used in the analysis. With the aid of these concepts, the content and meaning of history education for VET are connected to macro levels of education, and the way in which education reproduces social order when certain forms of knowledge are distributed to different groups in society is discussed. Three major conclusions are drawn. First, history as a pedagogic discourse comes forward as versatile and contradictory when the results from the studies are aggregated. There is, however, a shared understanding that the meaning of history in VET is to educate the students to become democratic and active citizens. Secondly, the investigated discourses ascribe history education with the potential to distribute critical and powerful knowledge. The students see a value for history education in their future as citizens and for giving them access the public conversation of society. A final conclusion is that the pedagogic code, embedded in the history curriculum, can be interpreted in two different ways. The emphasis on competencies and the focus on the last two hundred years can be interpreted as (A) an expression of a wish for immediate utility and thus an instrumental view of education or (B) the recontextualisation of scientific theories, concepts, and practices into a pedagogic discourse as a means to give students access to disciplinary (powerful) knowledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2015. 57 p.
Umeå studies in history and education, 10
History education, history of education, curriculum studies, curriculum reform, vocational education and training, upper secondary education, post-compulsory education, citizenship education, historiedidaktik, historia, läroplan, gymnasiereform, yrkesutbildning, sekundärutbildning, demokrati, medborgarfostran, gymnasieutbildning
National Category
History Educational Sciences
Research subject
history of education
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-99842 (URN)978-91-7601-228-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-03-13, Hörsal E. Humanisthuset, Umeå, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-02-20 Created: 2015-02-13 Last updated: 2015-04-30Bibliographically approved

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Nordic Journal of Educational History, Vol 1, No 1 (2014)Nordic Journal of Educational History, Till nytta eller onytta

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Ledman, Kristina
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