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The Effects of an Education Reform on Democratic Citizenship

By Mikael Persson and Henrik Oscarsson


In the mid 1990s an extensive reform of the Swedish educational system took place in order to create a ‘school for everyone’ that was intended to function like a ‘social equalizer’. The new unified gymnasium initiated longer educational programs with an increased amount of civics courses. The aim of this study is to examine whether the well documented gap in levels of democratic citizenship characteristics between students on theoretical and vocational gymnasium study programs prevailed after this massive reform. Did the new educational system decrease the gap concerning political participation, knowledge, attentiveness and trust between students with different types of education? Given the vast amount of empirical research that has shown that education promotes democratic citizenship, the reform could be expected to result in a reduced civic gap. Contrary to the conventional wisdom in research on educational effects, results show no positive effects of initiating longer educational programs with more civic courses on the examined core dimensions of democratic citizenship. The gap in civic virtues between citizens from theoretical and vocational gymnasium study programs prevailed also after the unification of the educational system

Year: 2008
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