Education governance in times of marketization

The quiet Swedish revolution
  • Linda Rönnberg
  • Joakim Lindgren
  • Lisbeth Lundahl
Part of the Educational Governance book series (EDUGOV, volume 43)


In this chapter, we focus on how education governance can be conceptualized and understood in a context of far-reaching marketization and privatization. We address the challenges and limitations of (political) education governance in times of educational marketization. We argue that the Swedish case is a good starting point for such analytical exploration, since Sweden has experienced quite a far-reaching transformation in this regard, from a strongly centralist and state-led education system to a dispersed, multi-actor and marketized education system, which may be of relevance and importance for additional theorizing in this area. We show that few current political and societal challenges to the dominant policy trajectory exist and that both social democratic and non-socialist governments follow an entrenched policy path, governing largely by preservation and restoration. We argue for the need to critically discuss and unpack the complexities of governing education in a policy context in which market forces have entered, and fundamentally are affecting, education in all policy stages.


Education governance privatization nation state marketization Sweden 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexiadou, N. (2013). Privatising public education across Europe – Shifting boundaries and the politics of (re)claiming schools. Education Inquiry, 4, 413–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexiadou, N., Lundahl, L., & Rönnberg, L. (2018, forthcoming). Shifting logics: Education and privatization the Swedish way. In J. Wilkinson, R. Niesche & S. Eacott (Eds.), Challenges for public education: Reconceptualising educational leadership, policy and social justice as resources for hope. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Baggesen Klitgaard, M. (2008). School vouchers and the new politics of the welfare state. Governance, 21, 479–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ball S. J. (2009). Privatising education, privatising education policy, privatising educational research: Network governance and the ‘competition state’. Journal of Education Policy, 24, 83–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell, S., & A. Hindmoor (2009). Rethinking Governance. The Centrality of the State in Modern Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Blomqvist, P. (2004). The choice revolution: Privatization of Swedish welfare services in the 1990s. Social Policy & Administration, 38, 139–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carlbaum, S., Hult, A., Lindgren, J., Novak, J., Rönnberg, L., & Segerholm, C. (2014). Skolinspektion som styrning. Utbildning & Demokrati, 23, 5–21.Google Scholar
  8. Dagens Industri (2015). Kreab bakom SD:s högersväng.
  9. Erixon Arreman, I., & Holm, A.-S (2011). Privatisation of public education? The emergence of independent upper secondary schools in Sweden. Journal of Education Policy, 26, 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  11. Fraser, N. (2011). Marketization, Social Protection, Emancipation: Toward a Neo-Polanyian Conception of Capitalist Crisis. In C. Calboun & G. Derluguian, (Eds.), Business as Usual: The Roots of the Global Financial Meltdown (pp. 137–158). New York: NYU Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Grosse, I. (2013). Icke-vinstdrivande välfärd i Sverige och Tyskland. In L. Rönnberg, U. Strandberg, E. Wihlborg & U. Winblad (Eds.), När förvaltning blir business. Marknadiseringens utmaningar för demokratin och välfärdsstaten (pp. 77–97). Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gustafsson, J.-E., Sörlin, S., & Vlachos, J. (2016). Policyidéer för svensk skola. Stockholm: SNS.Google Scholar
  14. Hogan, A. (2015). Boundary Spanners, network capital and the rise of edu-businesses: The case of News Corporation and its emerging education agenda. Critical Studies in Education, 56, 301–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holm, A.-S. (2017). En skolkoncerns uppgång och fall. Utbildning & Demokrati, 17, 87–101.Google Scholar
  16. Jacobsson, B., Pierre, J., & Sundström, G. (2015). Governing the embedded state. The Organizational Dimension of Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Jarl, M., & Rönnberg, L. (2015). Skolpolitik. Från riksdagshus till klassrum. 2nd ed. Stockholm: Liber.Google Scholar
  18. Larsson, B., Letell, M., & Thörn, H. (Eds.) (2012). Transformations of the Swedish welfare state: From social engineering to governance? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  19. Lindgren, J., & Rönnberg, L. (2017). Knowing inspectors’ knowledge – forms and transformations. In J. Baxter (Ed.), School Inspectors: policy implementers, policy shapers in national policy contexts (pp. 159–181). Dortrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lundahl, L. (1997). A Common Denominator? Swedish Employers, trade unions and vocational education in the postwar years. International Journal of Training and Development, 1, 91–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lundahl, L. (2002). Sweden: Decentralisation, deregulation, quasi-markets – and then what? Journal of Education Policy, 17, 687–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lundahl, L. (2011). The emergence of a Swedish school market. In R. Hatcher & K. Jones (Eds.), No Country for the Young: Education from New Labour to the Coalition (pp. 37–50). London: Tufnell Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lundahl, L. (2012). Educational theory in an Era of Knowledge Capitalism. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 31, 215–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lundahl, L. (2013). Challenges of educational theory in the age of knowledge capitalism. In G. Biesta, J. Allan & R. Edwards (Eds.), Making a Difference in Theory: The theory question in education and the education question in theory (S. 31–44). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Lundahl, L. (2014). En (val)fri skola. In Thule. Kungl. Skytteanska Samfundets Årsbok 2014 (pp. 37–48). Umeå: Kungl. Skytteanska Samfundet.Google Scholar
  26. Lundahl, L., & Rönnberg, L. (2016, August). And what happened next? Managing the Swedish school choice revolution. Paper presented at the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER), in Dublin.Google Scholar
  27. Lundahl, L., & Rönnberg, L. (2017, August). Sweden: Extensive privatization of education. Paper presented at the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER), in Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  28. Lundahl L., Erixon-Arreman, I., Holm, A.-S., & Lundström, U. (2014). Gymnasiet som marknad. Umeå: Boréa.Google Scholar
  29. Mahoney, J., & Thelen, K. (Eds.) (2010). Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, and Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Miller, P., & Rose, N. (2008). Governing the present: Administering economic, social and personal life. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. Nilsson, L. (2017). Väljare och valda om vinster i välfärden. In U. Andersson, J. Ohlsson, H. Oscarsson & M. Oskarson (Eds.), Larmar och gör sig till (pp. 489–503). Göteborgs universitet: SOM-institutet.Google Scholar
  32. OECD (2015). Improving Schools in Sweden. An OECD perspective. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  33. Olovsson, T. G. (2015). Det kontrollera(n)de klassrummet. Bedömningsprocessen i svensk grundskolepraktik i relation till införandet av nationella skolreformer. Dissertation, Umeå universitet.Google Scholar
  34. Palumbo, A., & Scott, A. (2018). Remaking market society: A critique of social theory and political economy in neoliberal times. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Pierre, J., & Peters, B. G. (2000). Governance, Politics and the State. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  36. Pierson, P. (2000). Increasing Returns, Path Dependence and the Study of Politics. American Political Science Review, 94, 251–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Polanyi, K. (1944). The great transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  38. Rhodes, R. A. W. (2007). Understanding Governance: Ten Years On. Organization Studies, 28, 1243–1264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Robertson, S. L. (2008). ‘Remaking the World’: Neo-liberalism and the Transformation of Education and Teachers’ Labour. In L. Weiner & M. Compton (Eds.), The Global Assault on Teaching, Teachers, and their Unions. Stories for Resistance (pp. 11–27). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  40. Rönnberg, L. (2011). Exploring the Intersection of Marketisation and Central State Control through Swedish National School Inspection. Education Inquiry, 2, 689–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rönnberg, L. (2017). From national policy-making to global edu-business: Swedish edu-preneurs on the move. Journal of Education Policy, 32, 234–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rönnberg, L. (2015). Marketization on Export. Representations of the Swedish free school model in English media. European Educational Research Journal, 14, 549–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ryner, M. (1999). Neoliberal Globalization and the Crisis of Swedish Social Democracy. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 20, 39–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. SKL (2016). Köp av verksamhet 2015. Stockholm: Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting.Google Scholar
  45. SNAE (2014). Privata aktörer inom förskola och skola. En kartläggning av enskilda huvudmän och ägare, Rapport 410. Stockholm: Skolverket.Google Scholar
  46. SNAE (2017). Beskrivande data 2016. Förskola, skola och vuxenutbildning. Rapport 452. Stockholm: Skolverket.Google Scholar
  47. SOU 2013:56. Friskolorna i samhället. Stockholm: Fritzes.Google Scholar
  48. SOU 2016:78. Ordning och reda i välfärden. Stockholm: Wolters Kluwers.Google Scholar
  49. SOU 2017:35. Samling för skolan. Nationell strategi för kunskap och likvärdighet. Stockholm: Wolters Kluwers.Google Scholar
  50. Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2016). New Directions in Policy Borrowing Research. Asia Pacific Education Review, 17, 381–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Strandberg, U. (2013). Marknadisering av förvaltningen– medborgarskapets nya skepnader i det tidiga 2000-talet. In L. Rönnberg, U. Strandberg, E. Wihlborg & U. Winblad (Eds.), När förvaltning blir business. Marknadiseringens utmaningar för demokratin och välfärdsstaten (pp. 1–21). Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press.Google Scholar
  52. Streeck, W., & Thelen, K. (2005). Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Sundberg, D., & Wahlström, N. (2015). Theory-based evaluation of the curriculum Lgr 11.
  54. Svenskt Näringsliv (2016). Foretagarstorm mot vinstbegransning. Retrieved Jan 11, 2018.
  55. Svensson, S. (2014). Oligarkerna. Vinnarna i slaget om välfärden. Rapport 4. Stockholm: Tiden.Google Scholar
  56. The Economist (2010). The strange death of social-democratic Sweden.
  57. Torfing, J. (2001). Path-Dependent Danish Welfare Reforms: The Contribution of the New Institutionalisms to Understanding Evolutionary Change. Scandinavian Political Studies, 24, 277–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. van der Heijden, J., & Kuhlmann, J. (2017). Studying Incremental Institutional Change: A Systematic and Critical Meta-Review of the Literature from 2005 to 2015. Policy Studies Journal, 45, 535–554.Google Scholar
  59. Wahlström, N. (2011). Internationella konventioner och debatten om fristående skolor. In T. Englund & Y. Bergström (Eds.), Utbildning som medborgerlig rättighet: föräldrarätt eller barns rätt? (pp. 87–127). Goteborg: Daidalos.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Rönnberg
    • 1
  • Joakim Lindgren
    • 1
  • Lisbeth Lundahl
    • 1
  1. 1.UmeåSchweden

Personalised recommendations