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I wrote this essay because Kristijan Jordanov hired me on upwork to write essays instead

of him. Unfortunately, he was unfair to me and disrespectful. Therefore I am submitting


these essays online under my name (their original author).

Aleksandra Danailovska
1. Historical institutionalism and Swedish school voucher system

1a. The fundamental characteristic of this approach is the emphasis on the historical dynamics of
political processes and institutional development. With a specific focus on the origin and
integration of institutions into given time process, historical institutionalism highlights the
historical logic of unintended consequences, i.e. this approach stress the importance not only to
the settings of institutions, but also to the historical context that produced them. The definition of
institution includes formal organizations and informal rules and procedures that structure
behavior. Institutions provide a context in which actors define their strategies and follow their
interests, leaving a ‘track record of political outcomes’. According to this approach, actors are
more likely to follow socially defined rules than to act strategically and rationally. Institutions
are considered relatively permanent features of history and represent one of the central factors
which push historical development in a certain direction. Historical institutionalism thus explains
how institutions create such directions, i.e. how they became a structured response of the new
challenges (Hall and Taylor, 1996).

2b. One of the main issues of interest to historical institutionalists is how institutions are
channeling the flow of ideas that provide a set of prepared solutions for public policy issues. A
policy choice made at the beginning of an institution’s life influences future policies. This means
that the institution is shaping over time and this is called ‘path dependency’. Institutional factors
affect the outcome of policies and make it difficult to change institutional structures created.
Once public policy has been initiated and institutional choices made, institutions create a lasting
model and there is a tendency to influence latter policies, thus limiting future choices. The
history institutional approach to ‘path dependence’ differs from the other new institutionalism
approaches. Such an approach was built on two presumptions. The first one was based on the
literature on ‘critical moments’, which emphasizes that institution, have emerged and changed
after ‘decisive moments’. The second one indicates that institutions continue to develop as a
response to the changing environmental conditions and political maneuvers in that progress, but
they are limited by the transmitted path. The first is mainly about discontinuity, while the other
focuses on continuity mechanisms, i.e. different feedback mechanisms (Hall and Taylor, 1996).

1c. This investigation consist of Swedish school voucher system analysis from the historical
institutionalist perspective. The focus will be on Swedish private schools (so called free schools)
and their (dis)continuity and change by the establishment of the voucher system. For that reason,
there will be an analysis of the historical development of the free schools.

1d. This investigation will strive to explain the connection between Swedish so called ‘free
schools’ and the over-all quality of education in Sweden since the establishment of the school
voucher system, given the fact that public school students are outperforming students at private
schools. Are the private schools the reason for the decreased quality of education in Sweden ?

1e. More specifically the focus will be on the critical moments which resulted in establishing the
system, i.e. how the flow of ideas was channeled in order to establish new public policy
solutions. Further, there will be an analysis of how these public policy choices influenced the
private schools in Sweden. This will be done with consideration of the rapidly changing
environment and the prospects for continuity and change. It is crucial to observe how the
institutions were developing before the voucher system policy, and how (or does) this policy
influenced significant institutional change (Butrymowicz, 2018).

1f. This study may lead to different results: a) The free schools were established as profit
institutions (regardless of the profit sources), they do not strive to strengthen the quality of
education, but rather to attract more students; b) The free schools were established as profit
institutions, and they strive to strengthen the quality of education in order to attract more
students. However, due to increased competiveness there are some private schools willing to
trade off education quality and number of students enrolled; c) The private schools are not the
reason for the decreased quality of education, there may be some other factors which should be
taken into account; d) This study may produce surprising results, not anticipated at the
beginning.
2. Marxism and Swedish school voucher system

2a. Marxism - based on the English political economy, French utopian socialism and German
idealistic philosophy from the first half of the 19th century - strives to critique a society that is
both scientific and revolutionary at the same time. Marxism interprets history through the
conflict of privileged and oppressed social classes, and believes that all social problems will be
resolved by the creation of a classless society called communism. As a transition phase between
capitalism (which Marxists regard as the last stage of a class society) and communism, socialism
should be established in which the private ownership of the means of production should
gradually be abolished. Marxism advocates social (state) ownership (of the materials for
production - machines, land, factories, energy sources, etc.) in organizing the material production
that people need. Basic presumptions of Marxism are the class analysis of society, the theory of
state extinction and the labor theory of value (Leopold, 2013).

2b. Marxism insists that all previous societies, with the exception of the original community, are
societies divided into classes. Relations between these classes are not harmonious, but
antagonistic and lead to class struggle between them. In the contemporary society the classes are
divided as capitalist and working class. According to Marxism, the class struggle will lead to the
victory of the working class, by the creation of a socialist society and the abolition of classes. In
the contemporary societal research, the notion of class struggle is characterized by conflicts at
the economic and political level. Recent theoretical debates challenge the fundamental
importance of class struggle and its driving force in history, and are considered to be the
consequence of more fundamental, structurally determined social forces, such as division of
labor, power relations, developmental change, etc (Chibber, 2007).

2c. With Swedish school voucher system, the students and their parents are free to choose the
most suitable school for them, regardless on their financial ability. Accordingly, there are no
class differences that could affect school choice. The focus of this investigation will be the class
differences and the students’ integration into schools. According to the research, there is still
rising inequality in Swedish schools. In practice, the parents who take advantage of this option
tend to be the ones from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, meaning that children from
privileged backgrounds are likely to attend the more competitive, highly performing schools
while children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to attend the default,
nearest school (Edwards, 2018).

2d. Sweden's first neoliberal government passed multiple reforms aimed at making schools more
cost-effective, competitive, and efficient (Edwards, 2018). However, it has failed to bring about
integration. This study will examine whether the Swedish school voucher system is reducing the
class difference between students. It will strive to give an answer to the question whether the
school voucher system is contributing toward better integration at schools?

2e. This study will apply the Marxist class theory into contemporary settings in order to explain
the class segregation in the 21st century. Applied to the Swedish school voucher system it can be
portrayed by the following example: the parents who take advantage of the school voucher
option tend to be the ones from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, meaning that children from
privileged backgrounds are likely to attend the more competitive, highly performing schools
while children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to attend the default,
nearest school (Edwards, 2018).

f. This study may lead to different results: a) The school voucher system in Sweden is reducing
the gap between the rich and poor by giving equal opportunities and supporting the social
welfare; b) The school voucher system is giving equal opportunities to students, regardless on
their class background, however the class differences are still present; c) The class differences
are no longer relevant in the modern democratic societies and there is no evidence that this
system is bringing about student’s integration in schools; d) This study may produce surprising
results, not anticipated at the beginning.
3. Comparison of the approaches

Historical Institutionalism Marxism

Emphasis on the historical dynamics of Interprets history through the conflict of


political processes and institutional privileged and oppressed social classes
development

The institutions are wide defined including Society moves forward based on certain
formal organization and non-formal rules and contradictions that exist within it
regulations

The institutions are giving the context in which Attention to the material conditions of human
actors define their strategies life and social relations between people

The institutions distribute power unequally and Understanding the class in terms of different
some groups are not given access to decision- economic production relations and as a specific
making process position within these relationships

Institutions structure decisions and affect Understanding the material conditions and
political outcomes social relationships as historically variable

Institutions shape policies over time (path The belief that people's awareness of the
dependence) conditions of their lives reflects those material
conditions and relationships

3b. The fundamental features of historical institutionalism, the dependence on the chosen path,
the critical moments of the idea, are a useful methodological tool for testing firm hypotheses
rooted in the empirical material that is being studied. This approach can be useful in studying
government institutions in order to analyze how institutional arrangements affect the choice and
preferences of decision-makers. The methodology of historical institutionalism can be applied
even more widely to other areas in social sciences such as international relations. With this
approach government educational policies can be analyzed in terms of how educational
institutions influenced the decision-makers, and how these institutions have changed over time.
The historical analysis will be useful in comparing the institutions before and after the
educational reform (Hall and Taylor, 1996). However, historical institutionalism is not unified
methodology - there are different approaches used by different scholars. There is epistemological
problem with both the rational idea and the idea of equilibrium. The path dependence can
distinguish only probabilistic casualties, since correlation cannot be considered as causation. The
other problem is to determine how much historical data is enough for the researcher and where
the casual threat should be traced.

Marxism can be an excellent approach to differentiate the socio-economic differences between


students and how public policies affect segregation. It interprets history through the conflict of
privileged and oppressed social classes, and stresses out the material conditions of human life
and social relations between people (Chibber, 2007). However, there are many flaws in this
approach. For example, the time has shown that development of the capitalist world after Marx
did not confirm his predictions – the growth of productivity leads simultaneous growth in the
number of residents, employees, wages and living standards. In practice it turned out that
economies and societies formed in a capitalist manner were more successful than those followed
by Marxist postulates-which included the suppression of economic freedoms, the freedom of
religion, political freedoms and other freedoms and rights of the individual, and the country's too
much role in the life of society (Leopold, 2013). Therefore, it is not certain that the class
differences should be the only variables taken into account in order to explain segregation.

Sources:

Butrymowicz, S., 2018. Is Sweden proof that school choice doesn’t improve education? | PBS NewsHour
[WWW Document]. URL https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/is-sweden-proof-that-
school-choice-doesnt-improve-education (accessed 11.13.18).

Chibber, V., 2007. Developments in marxist class analysis, in: Critical Companion to Contemporary
Marxism. Brill Academic Publishers, pp. 353–367.

Edwards, C., 2018. What’s behind the rising inequality in Sweden’s schools, and can it be fixed? - The
Local [WWW Document]. URL https://www.thelocal.se/20180822/sweden-in-focus-education-
inequality-schools (accessed 11.13.18).

Hall, P., Taylor, R., 1996. Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms.
Leopold, D., 2013. Marxism and Ideology: From Marx to Althusser, in: Freeden, M., Sargent, L.T., Stears,
M. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies. Oxford University Press, p. 20.