The Paradoxes of Good Intentions: The theory and practice of reforms reflected in teachers´ experiences

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The theory and practice of reform as reflected in teachers’ experience of meetings in schools.

This empirical study has been carried out in a coeducational school for pupils up to the age of 16 ("grundskola") during the school years 1988-89 up to and including 1991/92. In this study 26 teachers and five school administrators - head teachers and deputy-head teachers - have been interviewed. Personal observation, analysis of the minutes taken at meetings and questionnaires has also been used. These methods have been used to study both formal and informal meetings. The research problem was approached through three questions: How do teachers experience these meetings in school? Of what importance are these meetings? What effect did the proposals and reforms, which aimed at introducing and developing meetings in school, have at local level? The empirical material has been interpreted and analysed from an analytical point of view which is based upon investigators’ and school-politicians’ – central governments’ – supposition that a structural change in the organisation of teachers’ work which involves them in new forms of meeting - so called "work teams" (arbetsenheter) - and result in increased interdepartmental democracy, giving teachers a new mandate with increased authority to make decisions. This has been a theme in Swedish school reform activity since the late 70’s in the enquiry Skolans inre arbete (SOU 1973:54) - "Internal Organisation in Schools’"as well as in the 90’s (amongst others) by the School Commission Om skola i en ny tid - "Schools in a New Age (SOU 1997:121). My combination of a field study based on teachers’ praxis, interpreted and analysed in relation to the central governments’ reform work gives the dissertation special value; that it contains, amongst other things, information and understanding of what takes place between central and local levels and how reforms are received and possibly put into practice in schools.

Key words: Sociology of school, meetings, meetings of the work-units, formal and informal meetings.


  • Zeth Idof Ståhl
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • formal anf informal meetings, techers empowerment, work-teams at school, Sociology of school, meetings, Sociology
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1998 Sep 30
  • Department of Sociology, Lund University
Print ISBNs91-89078-45-4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 1998-09-30 Time: 10:15 Place: Lund University, Carolinasalen External reviewer(s) Name: Ahrne, Göran Title: Professor Affiliation: Stockholm University ---