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Reimagineering the Nation

Essays on Twenty-First-Century Sweden


Edited By Aleksandra Ålund, Carl-Ulrik Schierup and Anders Neergaard

This collection of essays offers a critical analysis of neoliberal transformation as it has unfolded in Sweden, long regarded as exemplary in terms of social welfare, equality and an inclusive multicultural democracy. The book presents a multidisciplinary exposition on Sweden, seen in a wider European perspective. It addresses changing frameworks of citizenship, welfare and democracy, migration and asylum, urban segregation and labour market segmentation and processes of securitization. It illuminates intersecting dimensions of class, gender and racialization and juxtaposes xenophobic populism with new social justice and antiracist movements on a changing political stage. Addressing a growing alignment with retrogressive illiberal policies across Europe, the volume exposes the reach of the adverse direction in which European «integration» is currently heading.

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7. Towards a New Education Regime: The Neoliberal Turn in Swedish Education Policy (Magnus Dahlstedt / Anders Trumberg)


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Magnus Dahlstedt & Anders Trumberg

7. Towards a New Education Regime: The Neoliberal Turn in Swedish Education Policy*

Abstract: The chapter focuses on the neo-liberal changes of Swedish education policy since the early 1990s and its consequences for the democratic and egalitarian visions of the education system. Policy changes, it is argued, have carried with them a reproduction and increase of inequalities between different students, along ethno-cultural/racial, gender, and class lines, in terms of educational options and outcomes.


The education system in Sweden was for a long time segregated. The minority of mostly privileged, mostly male students could study at the upper levels of the education system while the majority – following the lines of the underprivileged population in terms of gender and social class – were bound to the lower levels. The idea of a more equal school system was first presented as a governmental report in the 1940s. But it was only in the 1960s that the system changed and became oriented towards social equality and equal distribution of educational opportunities (Trumberg 2011). Under the development and implementation of the post-war school system one aim of the government was to secure a democratic distribution of education. This new democratic orientation included the goal of fostering responsible and active democratic citizens.

The institution of the school was regulated by the state with the aim of being as equal as possible, independent of which school students attended. Between...

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