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Tracking detracking reforms: Political explanations of institutional tracking in education
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government. Uppsala Center for Labor Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3026-3779
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present essay explores political explanations for differences in institutional tracking. Tracking refers to the practice in which school children are separated into different tracks according to ability or future plans for further education. Some countries more or less abolished tracking during the decades after the Second World War, whereas others have largely retained that traditional institutional structure of education. What role do partisan politics play for these different trajectories? Tracking is argued to be a truly political issue, as it is closely connected to the reproduction of social stratification and the conditions for social mobility. Hardly any previous comparative studies have aimed to explain the institutional development of tracking, and none have focused on partisan politics. The empirical evidence of this study is based on a novel dataset collected by the author and addressing the development of tracking institutions and reforms from 1960 to 2013 in 31 developed democratic states. In the analyses, government partisanship is used to explain differences in age of selection and in the propensity to decide on detracking reforms. The results show that early selection is strongly related to a dominance of Christian democratic governments, whereas detracking reforms have mainly been carried out by social democratic governments.

Keywords [en]
Education, Tracking, Education reform, Political economy, Political parties
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-332621OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-332621DiVA, id: diva2:1153586
Available from: 2017-10-31 Created: 2017-10-31 Last updated: 2017-10-31
In thesis
1. Education, Stratification and Reform: Educational Institutions in Comparative Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Education, Stratification and Reform: Educational Institutions in Comparative Perspective
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The main argument of this thesis is that research has to take the institutional character of education seriously. Educational institutions carry considerable weight for outcomes of education and their design is a matter of intense political debate. This work focuses in particular on the institution of tracking that has wide-reaching consequences for the structure of education. The thesis consists of an introductory essay, together with three empirical essays. The empirical essays all acknowledge the main argument but study different outcomes and relationships connected to education. Essay I studies how the institutions of political economy and education together affect equality of income and equality of educational opportunity. This essay contributes to the literature by distinguishing the effects of the different institutions of political economy and education, as well as how they interact to affect the two contrasting conceptions of equality. The results reveal that tracking hinders equality of educational opportunity but is also related to better incomes for vocational education graduates in certain institutional settings. Wage bargaining coordination reinforces the more equal educational opportunities of weakly tracked contexts and improves the relative income of vocational graduates in these contexts. Essay II explores how education and tracking affect social trust. It makes two contributions. First, the empirical approach provides strong support for causal inference. Second, it is the first study to consider how tracking affects social trust. The empirical evidence finds no general effect of educational attainment on social trust, but decreasing tracking has a positive effect on social trust for individuals who come from weakly educated backgrounds. Essay III aims to explain cross-country differences in tracking by focusing on the impact of government partisanship. The study contributes to the literature by being the first comparative study to explore how partisan politics may explain differences in tracking and being one of few comparative studies there are on the topic at all. The results show that tracking is strongly related to a dominance of Christian democratic governments, whereas detracking reforms have mainly been carried out by social democratic governments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2017. p. 46
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 147
Keywords
Detracking, Education, Educational institutions, Educational inequalities, Education policy, Educational reform, Educational systems, Equality, Political economy, Political Parties, Social Trust, Tracking, Vocational education, Vocational training, Varieties of Capitalism
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-332622 (URN)978-91-513-0143-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-12-15, Brusewitzsalen, Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-11-23 Created: 2017-10-31 Last updated: 2017-11-23

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