The Myth of Swedish Education Equity

  • Dennis Beach


This chapter is the introduction chapter. It presents the purpose of the book, which is to explore aspects of education justice and equity in relation to an educational system that is generally considered fairer and more equitable than most others: that of Sweden, and presents some seriously good reasons for undertaking this project. As has been suggested by the OECD in relation to its education justice barometer, Sweden’s education system is perhaps internationally remarkable seen from liberalist perspectives on education justice and equity as inclusion and access based. However, as the chapter also discusses, perhaps equally remarkable is the lack of impact the investments have had in terms of the creation of greater levels of class consciousness or significantly reduced gender, racial and ethnic equality or social and material differences in education consumption, selections and performances.

There are serious structural inequalities in education around race, class, gender and special needs and they have worsened recently as marginalization and the segregation of socially disadvantaged and ethnic minority groups has increased at the same time as differences in education consumption and performance levels have widened, the notion of a comprehensive education for all has transmogrified, and the rhetoric of inclusion has become a metaphor for the dominance of human capital, manifested in personal choice over social justice. Taken together these points clearly once again suggest that although education is expressed as based on independence and academic neutrality, it is still (as it has been in the past), in both theory and practice, highly political, ideologically biased toward bourgeois values, and distinctly socially and culturally reproductive.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis Beach
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Education and Special EducationUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden

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