Contrasting Dynamics in Education Politics of Extremes

School Choice in Chile and Finland


This book aims to enhance understanding of school choice as a supra-national travelling policy, explored in two strikingly different societies: Latin American Chile and North European Finland. Chile was among the first countries to implement school choice as a policy, which it did comprehensively in the early 1980s through the creation of a market environment. Finland introduced parental choice of a school on a very moderate scale and without the market elements in the mid-1990s. Predominant aspects of Chilean basic schooling include provision by for-profit and non-profit private and municipal organisations, voucher system, parental co-payment and ranking lists. Finland persists in keeping education under public-authority governance and free-of-charge, and in prohibiting profit making and rankings.
The wide range of sociologists of education contributing to this book offer novel analyses and perspectives on the operation of school choice in Chile, the trailblazer, and Finland, the ‘European PISA leader’. Agnès van Zanten’s description of how school choice operates as a major dimension of social reproduction sets the scene. After that, Chilean and Finnish authors explore how the policy is displayed and used explicitly for very different societal purposes, although implicitly following similar patterns in the two countries with their histories, politics and cultures. Empirically the focus is on how families view and act on school choice. The research material includes large surveys, interviews and ethnographic data gathered in urban Chile and Finland. Capitalising on the concept of dynamics, the book concludes with some insights into how this globally travelling education policy has materialised in two apparently dissimilar societies and their localities.

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Educational Researchers and their students