Nordic education policy in retreat. Neoliberal economic rationalization and the rural school
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The Nordic educational welfare model was implemented to support social justice and equal opportunities for all. After the fall of the Berlin wall the welfare model is weakened due to influences from international and global trends. It is found that with the introduction of new public management steering of public welfare and the decentralization of responsibilities from state to municipalities, local authorities are left to their own devices to solve disparities between, for example, a decreasing population and a shrinking economy. The article looks closer at the disparities between the structure of new public management steering and context-related variables of diversity. Arguing for diversity as cultural variation, the article draws on empirical data based on focus-group interviews with teachers of three multi-grade schools in rural Norway. To support the analysis, Bourdieu’s theories on structure and agency (habitus and field) as well as cultural, social and symbolic capital are utilized. The results give examples of the cultural socialization of individuals/groups – and how they pursue their valued resources and pursue their interest in practice. In reference to new public management and the steering of education, the findings indicate resistance and complexity concerning contingent social and cultural influences, and dispositions in the educational field investigated.