1st Edition

The Morphogenesis of the Norwegian Educational System Emergence and Development from a Critical Realist Perspective

    244 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    244 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Based in the philosophy of critical realism, this book employs a range of Margaret Archer’s theoretical concepts to investigate temporal and spatial aspects of Norwegian education. Stemming from Archer’s engagement as visiting professor from 2017 to 2019 in the Department of Education at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, the book explores a new area for critical realist theorizing by asking how different spatial contexts affect the workings of the system. The various chapters employ diverse sets of Archer’s theoretical concepts; from morphogenetic cycles and the emergence of educational systems at the macro level, to the exercise of reflexivity among individual school leaders and students at the micro level. In contrast to the focus on educational homogeneity and similarity among Nordic and Scandinavian countries, and promotion of the conception of the ‘Nordic Model’, this book draws attention to differences between these nations as well as regional differences within Norway. As such, it will appeal to scholars with interests in education, sociology, critical realism, educational sciences and pedagogy, education history and political science as well those with a specific interest in the Nordic region.

    1. Introduction

    Margaret S. Archer, Unn-Doris K. Bæck and Tone Skinningsrud

    Part I: Morphogenetic cycles, the contextualization of education and educational development

    2. The structures of state educational Systems and why they matter: Norway and Denmark compared

    Margaret S. Archer and Tone Skinningsrud

    3. A letter by the Sámi Lutheran missionary Thomas von Westen: A critical realist perspective on contextualization

    Randi Skjelmo

    4. Vindicating Archer’s concepts of educational systems – centralized and decentralized – as exemplars of critical realist theorizing

    Tone Skinningsrud

    Part II: The spatial context of educational mechanisms

    5. Towards a critical realist ontology for spatial education analysis

    Unn-Doris K. Bæck

    6. Structural constraints on teachers’ work: Comparing work experiences in rural and urban settings in Northern Norway

    Daniel Andre Voll Rød

    7. Reflexivity and educational decision-making processes among secondary school pupils

    Anna-Maria Stenseth and Daniel Andre Voll Rød

    Part III: External and internal conditioning of educational interaction and practice

    8. The impact of PISA on education in Norway: A morphogenetic perspective on structural elaboration in an education system

    Terje André Bringeland

    9. School leaders’ reflexive mode in their internal conversations on PISA

    Terje André Bringeland

    10. The worldwide language issue in education

    Birgit Brock-Utne


    Margaret S. Archer is Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick, UK. Her books include Social Origins of Educational Systems; Culture and Agency: The Place of Culture in Social Theory; Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach; Being Human: The Problem of Agency; Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation; Making our Way Through the World; The Reflexive Imperative; Late Modernity: Trajectories towards Morphogenic Society; Generative Mechanisms Transforming the Social Order; Morphogenesis and the Crisis of Normativity; and Morphogenesis and Human Flourishing.

    Unn-Doris K. Bæck is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social Sciences at UiT the Arctic University of Norway. Her main research interests are within the sociology of education and the sociology of youth, with special emphasis on social and spatial inequalities. She has published extensively in journals and anthologies within these fields.

    Tone Skinningsrud is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Education at UiT the Arctic University of Norway. Her research contributions are in the areas of educational history, the sociology of education, comparative education, and field work methods. She has published in journals of educational history comparative education and visual anthropology. Currently, she is co-authoring a comprehensive history of Norwegian education applying Margaret Archer’s morphogenetic approach.