Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1996

Upper Secondary Education in East and West Europe: The Politics of Convergence?

Main discipline: Education
Lecturer: Senior Lecturer Robert Cowen
Institution: University of London, UK
Dates: 29 July - 2 August, 1996

This course is structured around the question of the degree of convergence which is visible in the socio-economic and political patterns and educational policies which are affecting upper secondary education in the new Europe. Despite the differences in the political and educational traditions of west and east Europe, are the styles of upper secondary education converging or remaining somewhat divergent? What is the nature of the educational recovery from State socialism? Is the early social science proposition of Halsey, Floud and Anderson a convergence theory which stresses that educational systems are likely to follow technological and industrialisation imperatives -relevant as a way of understanding contemporary developments in changes in patterns of upper secondary education? What, contemporaneously, is the balance between general education at the upper secondary level, and vocational-technical education? What are the theories, held by the relevant States, of the correct articulation of the market and education and schooling, especially upper secondary education? Does history (and the former political systems) make a difference; or are the North South differenoes in Europe more important in defining patterns of upper secondary education than the previous East West differences?

Thus the topics of the course are:


  1. Recent political changes in Europe with special reference to the State socialist systems. Europe within conceptions of the world economy.
  2. The elitist traditions of west European education, and communist traditions of education, with special reference to theories of the relationship of (i) general eclucation and vocational education and (ii) school and work.
  3. Patterns of upper secondary education in Europe, 1955-1975.
  4. The .Scandinavian and Southern European traditions of education: democratic theory and semi peripheral economies and politics.
  5. World systems analysis, and its application in education.
  6. Convergence theory with special reference to Halsey, Floud and Anderson. Potential strengths and deficiencies of convergence theories. World systems analysis and convergence theory compared.
  7. Upper secondary education in Westem ancl Northern Europe
  8. Upper secondary education in Eastern and Southern Europe
  9. Patterns of educational provision and contemporary theories of the economic and educational market.
  10. Convergence or divergence, patterns or chaos: rules of turbulence.

Syllabus Readings



European Education vol 25, No. 2, Summer 1993 'Removing the Communist Harness in Eastern Europe' pp 2-99.

Comparative Education, vol 28, No 1, 1992

Comparative Education, vol 30, No 1, 1994

Comparative Education vol 31, No 1, 1995

Comparative Education Review vol 36, No 1, 1992