Kampen om eleverna : Gymnasiefältet och skolmarknadens framväxt i Stockholm, 1987–2011

Sammanfattning: The Swedish educational reforms in the beginning of the 1990s, introducing a public-funded voucher system, free school choice and the right to run schools as commercial enterprises, had an important impact on upper secondary education. The Stockholm region, the most populous in Sweden, offered favourable conditions for the growth of a previously non-existent educational market. A massive expansion of independent schools took place, managed primarily by larger companies, along with the extensive marketing of profiled study programmes and the import of management models from the private sector. In 2011 alone, schools competed for 75 000 pupils representing an annual economic value of approximately 8.5 billion SEK.Covering the period 1988 to 2011, this thesis analyses the relationship between the educational market and upper secondary education as a social field structured by the educational strategies of social groups. Building on Bourdieu’s relational sociology, the study combines quantitative and qualitative methods, using correspondence analysis as a major analytical tool.While free school choice and the voucher system established a supply-demand relationship between schools and families and pupils, the analysis shows that the market has submitted to the same forces that structure the field of upper secondary education within which it unfolds, primarily the volume and composition of symbolic and other assets that students, families and schools possess. In fact, the social structure of the field of upper secondary education in Stockholm remains remarkably stable over time, opposing on the one hand female and male dominated education and on the other hand education with high social and scholarly recruitment to that with low. Euclidean clustering analysis unveils a complex social structure reflecting how the increasingly differentiated educational supply has adapted to the needs of various social groups. Elite schools, market-oriented schools and market-exposed schools develop different strategies in the battle over pupils. Competing amongst themselves for pupils rich in inherited and acquired capital, the elite schools withdraw from the openly market-oriented approach that characterises the other type of schools and instead opt for more subtle, long-term strategies for building up trust from their audience, involving investments in staff and other institutional assets.