Socialisation, learning and the OECD’s Reviews of National Policies for Education: the case of Sweden

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This paper suggests that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) education policy work of the last 20 years has achieved a paradigmatic shift in the thinking and framing of education; however, this process was not exclusively based and dependent upon the cold rationality of numbers. Crucially, as the article will show, it has also involved processes of socialisation and learning. The paper argues that a constructivist-institutionalist perspective based on the notion of socialisation provides adequate tools to explain the dominance of the OECD in the education policymaking world. The paper makes use of policy learning theory to show how and why it is the coming together of various actors in social terms that sustains and reinforces the numbers game, rather than simply the validity or strength of the numbers themselves. It uses the case of the publication of the OECD Review of Swedish education in 2015 to empirically flesh out the argument. Although the influence of the OECD has been great to a number of countries, Sweden is perhaps one of the few that displays such unanimity of public opinion and the academic and policymaking worlds in regard to the indispensability of the OECD as an education policy expert and actor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-310
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • country reviews
  • educational policy
  • education governance
  • OECD
  • socialisation


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