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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Capitalism, class inequity, and education justice in the Nordic countries: The myth of the Nordic model

20th November 2017, 17:30 to 18:30, Josephine Butler College, Professor Dennis Beach (University of Gothenburg)


Based on a series of recent meta-ethnographic publications this presentation will address the concept of the Nordic educational model and claims from and about it concerning issues of education justice, class parity and equity. It will develop arguments about these systems as being far from just and equitous historically, and as worsening in these respects following a turn toward market politics in recent decades. Three main conclusions from the research will be discussed.

The first is that the political turn to market politics has added to inequalities and created possibilities for private actors and companies to profit from poverty and problems of inclusion rather than, as argued by the purveyors of the market alternative, providing welfare solutions for them. The argument here is that the market based approaches to education supply did not cause inequality and exclusion in the Nordic countries; or as far as we know elsewhere either for that matter. They rather exploited existing mediatised inequalities as a way to (a) help motivate reduced expenditure on state owned public services and (b) promote private alternatives from. In this sense the mediators of market politics should be understood as preying on and profiting from existing inequities, which they also subsequently then helped to make worse.

The second conclusion is different. It derives from the ethnographically described fact that despite betrayal by the governments that are meant to represent their best interests and safeguard their future, young people in education have shown involvement, commitment, effort, creativity and a massive learning potential that can be seized on by curriculum developers and political and institutional educational leaders.

The third conclusion is that this is not always happening and that it provides a problem of significant proportions that offers an important future challenge for education organisations and their leaders, politicians, curriculum developers and of course researchers as well.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Professor Dennis Beach

Directions to Josephine Butler College

Map – Josephine Butler is denoted as building No. 55

Contact for more information about this event.