A School in Crisis: Changing crisis discourses and unchanging figures of thought, 1950-2020

Participants: David Sjögren, Joakim Landahl, Johannes Westberg
Funding body: Swedish Research Council
Duration: 2018-2020

During the last decades, it has often been claimed that the Swedish school system is in crisis. These crises have led to a number of school reforms and a vast academic debate about the causes and solutions of the crises in question. We propose a project that explores this debate from a historical perspective, examining the 1950-2020 period. We will focus on three main clusters of questions: How have school crises been described and explained over time? What kinds of (professional) participants have had a precedence to formulate school related problems over time, and what are their reasoning techniques? What kinds of solutions to solve crises have been launched?
Although we are not interested in the crisis itself, this project will be able to examine continuity and change in the ways of talking about crises in school. Despite the vitality of educational sciences, issues regarding how the crisis of schooling has been perceived, still remain an under-studied topic. Apart from contributing to the research on school politics, this project will consequently be of relevance for school politics itself. What if the perceptions of a school in crisis are to a large degree guided by persistent discursive structures, rather than the “objective” or “actual” state of the Swedish school system?