Folkeskolereformen: – Et forhandlingsspil fra lov til praksis

Lasse Dam Jensen & Peter Mønster

Student thesis: Master thesis


The current debate about the new public school reform often comes down to teachers’ ability to be adaptable for change and cooperative, with the underlying assumptions that if the teachers are just adaptable enough, it’ll lead to the reform being implemented as the politicians imagined it. This thesis challenges these assumptions and insists on embracing the complexity following such a big change in one of the most central institutions in the Danish welfare state: We will explore the continuous meaning attribution, which follows the implementation, including the future teacher role that arises hereof. By insisting on the complexity in the relation between ‘the reform’ and the teachers, and by not reducing the teachers to either adaptable or stop blocks, a new ground arises where negotiations of the content of the reform enrolled in historic imperatives, logics and discourses can begin locally at the school. In order to capture this negotiation and meaning attribution, we’ve conducted an observation study at a Danish public school, Tre Falke Skole, in the implementation phase up until the actual reform ‘kickoff’. The thesis is divided into four chapters. In chapter 1 we clarify the analytical framework needed to capture the ‘global’ discourses and rationalities, the ‘local’ negotiations and the interrelation between them. In a combination building on Michel Foucault’s discourse and dispositive analysis and Erving Goffman’s interactionism, we consolidate a new, shared framework where negotiation is the constant observation point and where the necessary interaction between the school’s historic rationalities and the local negotiation game is provided. Chapter 2 unfolds the historic rationalities from which the current public school draws on and exists of today. By combining Foucault’s genealogy and archaeology method on anthologies concerning ‘the school’, we conclude that the main purpose of the public school is strung between two basic rationalities, a ‘forming rationale’ and an ‘academic rationale’. Following this, we analyse the new public school reform and conclude that it is based on very clear and targeted goals, but only few or none actual initiatives to reach those goals. Based on those two main points from chapter two, we underline that there is room for negotiation in the schools. In chapter 3, we unfold our analytical design by analysing the local interaction in the school in constant relation to the existing rationalities and discourses and vice versa. Chapter 3 is structured around three reform initiatives that arose at the local municipality level; the mentoring, the business guides and the office space. Drawing on our observation study and our chapter two analysis, we analyse the negotiation between representatives of the reform and the teachers and show how they handle the inherent paradoxes and over determination that follow with the implementation. We discover that in spite of room for negotiation from the reform initiatives, it’s often absent due to the strong family script, a ‘special’ leadership, role distance and the human often wanting to refuse conflict and resistance in order to let the social game flow. Interestingly, it is a new office space initative, which is not a part of the reform, but a result of a new collective agreement, that causes resistance and an actual negotiation. In chapter four, we initiate a discussion of the link between the maintenance of the social order (one of our results from chapter 3) and the teachers’ use of double and ironic distancing. By drawing on both Goffman and Slavoj Žižek, we suggest that especially the latter makes it possible for the teachers to withhold a perception of themselves as having a more ‘authentic’ self outside the reform. We also discuss if the new reform initiatives are viewed upon as fetish objects for the teachers’ desire to make a difference. However, these are assertions that need further research.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages114