Spaces, mobilities and youth biographies in the New Sweden Studies on education governance and social inclusion and exclusion

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet

Sammanfattning: The main theme of this thesis is the relation between education governance and social inclusion and exclusion. Overall the thesis is based on a life history approach were biographical interviews with young people are complemented with other contextual data such as survey data, longitudinal statistics, interviews with local politicians and school actors and local reports. Data were generated in three Swedish areas: a rural area in the North, an advantaged segregated area, and a disadvantaged segregated area in the South. The thesis consists of four articles that use the concepts of biography, space, and mobility. Article 1. examines the increasing usage of biographical registers in school. It suggests that biography as a form of education governance serves to construct the students as both objects for assessment and as a relay for continuous self-assessment. As such, this is a socio-political technology that is important to acknowledge in order to understand processes of social inclusion and exclusion. Article 2. addresses the following empirically generated question: How is it possible to understand the fact that disadvantaged students from a segregated area have such optimistic future orientations in relation to further education and work? Building on life history interviews with a small sample of refugee youth from a disadvantaged segregated area the paper presents a concept labelled Utopian diaspora biography (UDB). UDB describes a process whereby a high level of aspiration concerning education and labour is accumulated as a consequence of the social, temporal and spatial dynamic of the biography. Article 3. is an attempt to develop new understandings about local production of social inclusion and exclusion in a decentralised, individualised and segregated school landscape. Using a wide range of data the article suggests that local differences concerning schooling and the outcomes of schooling – both in terms of statistical patterns and the identities produced – are interrelated and are based on an amalgamation of local policy implementation, material conditions and spatially guided representations. Article 4. deploys the concept of mobility in order to explore how space and class become related to education and social inclusion and exclusion in the three chosen areas as young people are spatially situated but move, want to move, dream about moving, try to move, and fail to move through, in and out of different forms of communities. This paper shows that the possibilities of moving to desired places on the education- and labour market are unequally distributed between young people and between places. The analysis also seeks to move beyond schematic typologies such as those of ‘immobile working class’ and ‘mobile middle class’ by exploring how mobility is made meaningful and how notions about mobility are structured and enable action. In summary, the thesis contributes to the discussion on processes of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary society. These processes are understood as inter-disciplinary problematics that include the social production of spatiality, historicality, and sociality at both the societal level and on the level of identity. Crucial aspects concern aestheticisation and performativity in education which imply an increasing focus on discursive, or textual, dimensions of identity formation and the competitive strategies developed by students in order to secure social inclusion through the marketing of oneself. Under these circumstances, new identities and new forms of social inclusion and exclusion are produced.