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Without mast, without sails, without compass: Non-traditional trajectories into higher education and the duality of the folk-market
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8222-4726
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In 1809, the trajectory of Swedish history and the identities associated with the country changed after Finland was lost to Russia. Swedish General von Döbeln explained that the loss left the nation "without mast, without sails, without compass." The research within this dissertation is not of war but of a similar sense of loss. The loss of the folk-home.

Through an abductive case-study of present-day students entering higher education, the author explores the sociocultural history of Sweden, the Swedish education system, student self-efficacy beliefs, and the educational trajectories students experience on their way into higher education. This research uses a mixed methods design where a quantitative survey and qualitative narrative interviews complement each other. First, students within an introduction to university learning summer course at a large research university in Sweden completed a psychosocial survey measuring their self-efficacy beliefs about their academic skills and career decision making abilities. A statistically significant correlation was found between the two measures. 

Second, 11 students from the same course participated in narrative interviews where they detailed their educational trajectories between upper-secondary education and higher education. The author constructed, analyzed, mapped, and discussed each narrative using careership and social cognitive theory. Students within this study suggest that their transition between compulsory education and upper-secondary education was particularly impactful and shaped their self-efficacy beliefs and educational trajectories into higher education. Students describe a lonely process of upper-secondary education decision making at the age of 15 when they were sent to market without preparation, without support, and without the necessary tools. The majority eventually changed academic programs and schools during upper-secondary education. This led to lengthy ruptures outside of formal education that significantly delayed their progress towards graduation. Students only later decided to pursue a non-traditional trajectory into higher education after the negative self-efficacy beliefs they developed during these ruptures were challenged externally.

Lastly, previous research, theory, and the empirical findings were systematically combined through an interactive process of abduction. First, the author developed the concept of the folk-market, which better represents the current neoliberal welfare model present in late modern Sweden. The folk-market must be understood as a duality. The folk-market is both a market for folk and a market of folk. Citizens are both the consumers and the consumed. Second, the author presents folk-market theory, which suggests that neoliberal reforms that embed markets within welfare systems alter transition regimes, redirect state responsibility, and distance the connections citizens have with the state. Therefore, the findings suggest that notions of statist individualism misrepresent late modern Sweden. The relationships individuals and families have with the state are now indirect and filtered through the folk-market. This study also indicates that though Swedish, neoliberal, and adolescent narratives of "autonomous youth" are unrealistic, they directly shape educational policy in Sweden. As such, many students in Sweden are left navigating a competitive folk-market without mast, without sails, without compass.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education, Stockholm University , 2020. , p. 343
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik ; 61
Keywords [en]
educational trajectories, self-efficacy, collective efficacy, sociocultural history, Sweden, neoliberalism, education, university, school choice, career guidance, statist individualism, folkhem, transitions, pragmatism, late modernity
National Category
Educational Sciences Social Psychology Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Cultural Studies
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-179885ISBN: 978-91-7911-104-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7911-105-2 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-179885DiVA, id: diva2:1414375
Public defence
2020-05-27, Lilla hörsalen, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Frescativägen 40, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-05-04 Created: 2020-03-12 Last updated: 2020-05-26Bibliographically approved

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