1st Edition

Dynamics in Education Politics Understanding and explaining the Finnish case

    Dynamics in Education Politics: Understanding and Explaining the Finnish Case introduces a new theoretical framework characterised as Comparative Analytics of Dynamics in Education Politics (CADEP). Albeit the topicality of comparative research is obvious in the current era of global large-scale assessment, with its concomitant media visibility and political effects, comparative education is still suffering from certain methodological deficits and is in need of robust theorisation. Focusing on relational dynamics between policy threads, actors and institutions in education politics CADEP seriously considers the phenomena of complexity, contingency and trans-nationality in late-modern societies.

    In this book CADEP is applied and validated in analysing the "Finnish Educational Miracle" that has been attracting attention in the educational world ever since they rocketed to fame following the PISA studies during the 2000s. This book will open up opportunities for mutual understanding and learning rather than just celebrating the exceptional circumstances or sustainable leadership.

    Areas covered include:

    • The analytics of dynamics in education politics
    • The dynamics of policy making and governance
    • The dynamics of educational family strategies
    • The dynamics of classroom culture

    It is vital for humankind to be able to learn from each other’s successes and failures, and this applies in education, too. This book is thus a valuable read for anyone interested in the education system and wanting to shape the learning environment.



    1. Comparative Analytics in the Dynamics of Education Politics

    1.1 Comparative education as a contested terrain

    1.2 A proposal for a more systematic, flexible and vivid approach: CADEP

    2. Orienting to the Finnish case

    2.1 The history of political situations

    2.2 The history of political possibilities

    2.3 The history of politicking

    3. Dynamics in Policymaking

    3.1. Late but enduring structures reflecting a belief in schooling

    3.2. Middle-class liberalist equity meets factory- and farmland-based equality

    3.3 Equality enhanced by the recession and PISA

    3.4. Conclusion: buffering and embedded egalitarianism

    4. Dynamics in governance

    4.1 From strict centralisation towards NPM and decentralisation

    4.2 Punctuated trust

    4.3 Non-materialised QAE

    4.4 Conclusion: redistributing but punctuated trust

    5. Dynamics in family educational strategies

    5.1. Leaving the Peruskoulu monolith behind

    5.2. Contradictory school choice

    5.3. Local politicking for soft school choice

    5.4. Conclusion: reliable but diverged parenthood

    6. Dynamics in classroom cultures

    6.1. From Herbart-Zillerian and social pedagogy to Peruskoulu didactics

    6.2. Individualised Peruskoulu pedagogies since 1970

    6.3. A hybrid of tradition and progress

    6.4 Conclusion: consolidating but paternalistic progressivism

    7. The dynamics of Finnish basic-education politics: from understanding to explanation


    Hannu Simola, PhD, is Professor in Sociology and Politics of Education, at the Universities of Turku and Helsinki, Finland. His research interests are currently focused on socioanalysis of teacherhood, contextual analytics of educational innovations and local educational ethos. His recent book is The Finnish Education Mystery (Routledge 2015).

    Jaakko Kauko, PhD, MSocSc, is Associate Professor in Education at the School of Education, University of Tampere, Finland. His research is situated in the fields of politics of education and comparative education. He is interested in the questions of power, contingency, and complexity.

    Janne Varjo, PhD, is Lecturer at the Institute of Behavioural Sciences, and more particularly within the Research Unit focusing on the Sociology and Politics of Education, at the University of Helsinki. His research interests include sociology of education, history of education and administration, economy and planning of education.

    Mira Kalalahti, DrSocSc, MA, is Post-doctoral Researcher in the Research Unit Focusing on the Sociology and Politics of Education at the Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research interests involve sociology of education, especially questions concerning the equality of educational opportunities and educational transitions.

    Fritjof Sahlström, PhD, is Professor in Education at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. His research has focused on the organization of interaction in educational settings, on developing ways of documenting and analysing classroom interaction relying on conversation analysis, and on the relationships between interaction, participation and social reproduction.