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Exceptions in the Swedish School System: Exploring the Conditions Facing Secular and Confessional Nonprofit Schools
Marie Cederschiöld University, Institutionen för civilsamhälle och religion.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8178-2993
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Description
Abstract [en]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Swedish school system underwent a series of reforms that opened up the system for independent schools funded through vouchers. Since then, for-profit firms have gained significant traction and constitute a far greater share of the school system compared to nonprofits. This dissertation aims to contribute to a better understanding of the conditions facing secular and confessional nonprofit schools, both during the establishment process and the day-to-day operations. To achieve this aim, I have adopted an institutional approach which in this case implies that I focus both on formal rules and regulations (i.e., legal framework) as well as systems of beliefs, values, and ideas. The articles included in the dissertation analyze four conditions. First, I point to how confessional schools have always been perceived as deviant and as reducing social cohesion. This remains true regardless of whether the value system of the Swedish school system has been said to rest on a secular or a religious foundation. Second, I show how a lack of a philanthropic infrastructure in Sweden makes it harder for nonprofits to initiate new schools. Third, I discuss how due to the marginal presence of independent schools in Sweden before the school choice reform there is a lack of intermediary organizations giving advice to nonprofit schools regarding best practices and representing them at the political level. Fourth, I show how the design of the legal framework of the school system puts high demands on nonprofit schools to conform both to a bureaucratic logic and a market logic. Taken together, the results point to various conditions that contribute to a situation in which secular and confessional nonprofit schools have difficulties asserting themselves in the Swedish school system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Marie Cederschiöld högskola , 2023. , p. 126
Series
Avhandlingsserie inom området Människan i välfärdssamhället, ISSN 2003-3699 ; 19
Keywords [en]
Nonprofit schools, Confessional schools, School choice, Sweden, Institutional logics, Public religion, Marketization of welfare, Civil society
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
The Individual in the Welfare Society, Social Welfare and the Civil Society
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-10435Libris ID: m44fscw7km2bc28xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:esh-10435DiVA, id: diva2:1805509
Public defence
2023-11-10, Aulan, Campus Ersta, Stigbergsgatan 30, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-10-19 Created: 2023-10-17 Last updated: 2023-10-19
List of papers
1. Civil Society Regimes and School Choice Reforms: Evidence from Sweden and Milwaukee
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Civil Society Regimes and School Choice Reforms: Evidence from Sweden and Milwaukee
2020 (English)In: Nonprofit Policy Forum, ISSN 1799-3954, E-ISSN 1892-2686, Vol. 11, no 1, p. 1-37Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We examine the effects of school choice reforms implemented in the early 1990s in two different settings: Sweden and Milwaukee (WI, U.S.). We show how both the ideological and theoretical arguments for choice reform were similar in the two contexts, yet the consequences in terms of the organizational outcome and institutional sector configuration ended up strikingly dissimilar. While the new group of actors in the Swedish school system consisted primarily of large-scale for-profit schools, with only a minor share of the expansion being catered to by nonprofit actors, the Milwaukee school choice program became dominated by small-scale nonprofit schools operated by religious communities. We seek to explicate these differences by drawing on the welfare state literature and social origins theory, as well as from organizational and historical institutional theory. We argue that the resulting composition of providers is directly related to the deep-seated differences in the civil society regimes operating in the two contexts.

Keywords
Civil society regime, School choice, New public management, Nonprofit schools, Faith-based organizations; Education
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-8168 (URN)10.1515/npf-2019-0042 (DOI)000536869800002 ()
Available from: 2020-05-28 Created: 2020-05-28 Last updated: 2023-10-17Bibliographically approved
2. The continuation of perceived deviance: Independent confessional schools in Sweden 1795–2019
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The continuation of perceived deviance: Independent confessional schools in Sweden 1795–2019
2023 (English)In: British Journal of Religious Education, ISSN 0141-6200, E-ISSN 1740-7931, Vol. 45, no 4, p. 313-324Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article aims to contribute to the ongoing discussion on public religion by describing how independent confessional schools were established in Sweden (1795–2019) and by clarifying and deconstructing the dominant ideals that underpin school policy initiatives concerning religion, education, and independent confessional schools. I seek to answer the question: In what way do independent confessional schools appear problematic in relation to general school policy during the period 1795–2019? Employing both descriptive quantitative analysis using register data on independent confessional schools and critical policy analysis inspired by Bacchi’s WPR-approach (‘What’s the Problem Represented to Be’), this study shows that (1) independent confessional schools are not a new or growing phenomenon in Sweden and (2) throughout this study’s focal period, regardless of whether a religious or secular foundation was ascribed to Sweden’s public school system, independent confessional schools were perceived to deviate from public schools’ principal values.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2023
Keywords
Confessional schools, Public religion, Religious diversity, Sweden
National Category
Business Administration Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-9537 (URN)10.1080/01416200.2022.2073967 (DOI)
Available from: 2022-05-16 Created: 2022-05-16 Last updated: 2024-01-30Bibliographically approved
3. Facing Newness and Smallness: A Multiple Case Study of Nonprofits Creating Schools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Facing Newness and Smallness: A Multiple Case Study of Nonprofits Creating Schools
2023 (English)In: Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs, ISSN 2381-3717, Vol. 9, no 2, p. 147-163Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper utilizes the literature on liability of newness and smallness to examine new nonprofit school venture creation and explore what challenges new school ventures face. We ask the following researchquestions: What challenges and obstacles do new nonprofit school ventures face? How do new nonprofit school ventures manage to maneuver, mitigate, or overcome these challenges and obstacles? To answer these questions, we conducted a comparative case studyof three nonprofit organizations operating schools in Sweden. Our material consisted of semi-structured interviews and archival documents. The article illuminates two salient challenges for new school ventures: the need for legitimacy from a diverse set of stakeholders and the marshalling of sufficient resources. To cope with these challenges, the organizations combined an outward conformist strategy with an inward resource replacement strategy. Moreover, even though all ventures experienced obstacles, thecharacter and magnitude of these obstacles differed depending on their mode of emergence.

Keywords
Nonprofit Schools; Education Entrepreneurship; Liability of Newness; Liability of Smallness; Sweden
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-10436 (URN)10.20899/jpna.9.2.147-163 (DOI)
Available from: 2023-10-09 Created: 2023-10-09 Last updated: 2023-11-30Bibliographically approved
4. Conflict and consensus in the Swedish parliamentary debates on confessional schools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conflict and consensus in the Swedish parliamentary debates on confessional schools
(English)In: Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-10438 (URN)
Note

Status in dissertation: Manuscript

Available from: 2023-10-10 Created: 2023-10-10 Last updated: 2023-10-17Bibliographically approved

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2223242526272825 of 33
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