Schooling and the professionalization of teaching in Sweden: A socio-historical perspective on the logics of segmentation

Margareta Nilsson-Lindström, Dennis Beach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter presents a socio-historical perspective on the origin and development of the Swedish school field and the teaching professions. With Bourdieu as a source of inspiration, the school field is defined as a system of specialized institutions and agents (church, state, academy, teachers’ unions) who, based on different interests and positions, compete for recognition and power to define the aims and subject content of school education. The historical overview shows how the struggles between established and competing knowledge ideals and interests challenged the existing field structures and resulted in the establishment of new school forms and teacher categories. The history of the school field is presented in five phases. The first three phases cover the emergence, formation and consolidation of a socially segregated school system. The fourth phase begins with the welfare state’s efforts to counteract the segmentation characterizing the traditional schools and teacher categories, by establishing a secularized and integrated school system with a unified teaching profession. Also, referring to Freidson (2001), the development of profession-specific knowledge was an important State initiative. Today the school field is characterized by communalization and deregulation and new logics of segmentation have had far reaching consequences for teaching as profession.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe status of the teaching profession: interactions between historical and new forms of segmentation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021 Feb 24

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pedagogy


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