The academic–vocational divide in three Nordic countries: implications for social class and gender

Mattias Nylund, Per-Åke Rosvall, Elsa Eiríksdóttir, Ann-Sofie Holm, Ulpukka Isopahkala-Bouret, Anna-Maija Niemi, Guðrún Ragnarsdóttir

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review


In this study we examine how the academic–vocational divide is
manifested today in Finland, Iceland and Sweden in the division
between vocationally (VET) and academicallyoriented programmes
at the upper-secondary school level. The paper is based on a
critical re-analysis of results from previous studies; in it we investigate
the implications of this divide for class and gender inequalities.
The theoretical lens used for the synthesis is based on
Bernstein´s theory of pedagogic codes. In the re-analysis we
draw on previous studies of policy, curriculum and educational
praxis as well as official statistics. The main conclusions are that
contemporary policy and curriculum trends in all three countries
are dominated by a neo-liberal discourse stressing principles such
as “market relevance” and employability. This trend strengthens
the academic–vocational divide, mainly through an organisation
of knowledge in VET that separates it from more general and
theoretical elements. This trend also seems to affect VET students’
transitions in terms of reduced access to higher education, particularly
in male-dominated programmes. We also identify low
expectations for VET students, manifested through choice of textbooks
and tasks, organisation of teacher teams and the advice of career counsellors.
TidskriftEducation Inquiry
Sidor (från-till)97-121
Antal sidor25
StatusPublicerad - 22 mar 2018
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


  • 516 Pedagogik

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