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Juridification of school inspections in Sweden: A recourse to legislative enactments
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The Swedish education sector has been witnessing the emergence of an increasingly complex, financially weighty, and legislatively characterised body of education surveillance since national and centrally administered school inspections were reinstated in 2003. The constructing and intensifying of the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (SSI) has entailed, on one hand, the further strengthening of an overall regulatory framework represented by system-wide legislation and, on the other hand, the linking of the regulatory framework to a powerful agency of evaluation. Scholars argue that the government’s increasing resources given to the SSI, and the inevitable outcome in the form of a spiralling body of legislation, is to be seen as part of the process generally known as ‘juridification’, that is, ‘the (political) recourse to legislative enactment as a means of enforcing practice and implementing policy’ (Neave, 1998, p. 269).

This paper examines and critically discusses the concept of ‘juridification’ in terms of the way in which the SSI embodies and mediates the contract between the government, society and education. The empirical data consists of a) interviews with a number of legal experts at different levels at the SSI; b) interviews with head teachers who have experienced school inspections after the SSI’s legal regulatory framework was strengthened by the Education Act; and c) internal and official documents produced by the SSI.

Preliminary results point to a transformation to a structure that relies on legal and legislative aspects as evidence of progress, rather than attends to what can be called the more delicate task of trusting in professional judgement and take-up within the routines of individual schools. Two core structural components stand out, namely, primary traces and evidential linkages. The endeavour for evidentiary traces of performance reflect a forensic dimension and influence how attention and resources are allocated (cf. Power, forthcoming). Preliminary results thus suggest that the forensic dimension have a dual juridical and managerial character. The analysis also suggests a movement towards ‘documentarism’ (Steyerl, 2003). Documentation stands out as a prerequisite of accountability. A mentality of ‘if it is not put on paper, it doesn’t exist’ is displayed. The paper offers empirical illustrations of how ‘countable’ performances are produced locally by the inspectees, and how these productions are used by actors in the education system. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Juridification, school inspection, Sweden
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-228916OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-228916DiVA: diva2:735114
CESE XXVI Conference, Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg/ University of Education Freiburg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, 10-13 June 2014
Available from: 2014-07-22 Created: 2014-07-22 Last updated: 2014-07-23Bibliographically approved

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Novak, Judit
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