Kampen om den högre utbildningens syften och mål : en studie av svensk utbildningspolitik

Sammanfattning: The specific interest of this dissertation is to analyze and discuss the Swedish political struggle of defining the purposes and aims of higher education during the time period 1992-2007. Underlying this specific interest is a broader interest to take part in a multifold discussion concerning the role of higher education in relation to issues of societal and democratic development and of individual identity and citizenship, in times defined in terms of globalization and pluralism. The study takes its point of departure in discourse theory that directs the research interest to language use and the analysis of the political struggle as a contested discursive practice. The main aims of the study are: (I) To analyze the different discourses concerning the purposes and aims of higher education that are (re)articulated in the political struggle. (II) To analyze how the subject student is positioned in the different discourses. (III) To discuss hegemonic tendencies within the political struggle. The material studied in the dissertation consists of national and European policy texts, including government bills, official government inquiries, departmental reports and declarations from the Bologna process. From the analysis four discourses and subject positions provided for the student are constructed and derived; the classical academic discourse and the critically trained student; the discourse of globalization and the employable student; the discourse of democracy and the actively participating student; and finally the discourse of individual identity and the reflexive student. From the analysis it is concluded that it is possible to observe a variation in language use – in terms of the occurrence of (re)articulation of the different discourses – in the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century in the political struggle. The closer one gets to 2007 the more this variation in language use is reduced, and the narrower definitions of the purposes and aims of higher education one finds, owing to the hegemonic tendencies of the discourse of globalization. It is also concluded that national politics then assume a more bureaucratic shape and guide itself towards administration of supranational (European) definitions.