Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SULCIS Working Papers,
Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS

No 2009:3: Can Multicultural Urban Schools in Sweden Survive Freedom of Choice Policy?

Nihad Bunar ()
Additional contact information
Nihad Bunar: Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS, Postal: Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The aim of this article is to describe and analyze how a number of multicultural urban schools in the Swedish cities of Stockholm and Malmö identify, understand and respond to the competition they have been exposed to on the emerging educational quasi-market. Based on interviews with school leaders and research on a wide range of secondary literature it is possible to identify three types of competitors: “white” schools, ordinary and religious/ethnic free schools and neighboring multicultural schools. The responding strategies vary from the logic of resignation and condemnation of parents for making “wrong” choices to a critical redefinition of pedagogical practices towards minority students and the equivocal alliances. I argue that the competition as an exclusive incentive for school development, as proposed by the neoliberal educationalists, only partly has proven its aptitude. If the education system is to maintain its transformative capacity then interventions are needed in the very basis of the structure of inequality that generates social differences; in the way the educational market is organized as well as; in the multicultural urban schools’ daily operations and communications with their local communities.

Keywords: school choice; multicultural urban schools; competition; resignation

JEL-codes: I21

23 pages, February 4, 2009

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