Den Föreställda Förvaltningen : En institutionell historia om central skolförvaltning

Sammanfattning: The overall issue addressed in this thesis is that of the problematic relation between politics and administration, and more precisely the misconstrued image of a neutral and solely instrumental administration cleanly seperated from politics, rather than an administration permeated by the political. The purpose of the study is to show how the intricate interplay between the politics of education and the politics of administrative reform in combination with the particular handling of the major political conflicts over national education, in the Swedish context, over time has created a continuous identity dilemma for the National Agency for Education. Politics is here viewed primarily as the construction of meaning, and as such creating the preconditions for political action. The creation of meaning, on the other hand, is viewed as a struggle for order against ambivalence. The study takes as its point of departure the radical reform undertaken in the field of education in the early 1990's, a reform that encompassed a major transferral of responsibility for schools from the central administrative level to the local political level, the introduction of a new system of governance (MBO), replacing the one based on national control of detailed rules, as well as the dramatic dismantling of the National Agency for Education with the subsequent dismissal of all personnel, and the founding of a new Agency to replace the old one. In the process the blame for massive failures on part of the compulsory school system was put on The National Agency for Education, thus turning it into a scapegoat.The thesis is divided into two parts of which the first traces the genealogy of the scapegoat, and the second the new Agency in its struggle to create an appropriate identity, thus avoiding the fate of its predecessor. The first part of this institutional history is conducted as a discourse analysis, comprising the discursive as well as the institutional level, and the second part as an analysis of identity construction. The application of discourse analysis makes it possible to discern the discursively created preconditions of identity construction, as vital elements in both parts of the institutional history. Two subsidiary analyses are performed in the concluding chapter in order to situate the problematics of the educational sector in the wider context of the public sector as a whole, and to discuss their wider implications for policy making.