Lindblad S, Lindqvist A, Runesdotter C, Wärvik GB
Z Erziehungswiss 24 (2) 503-519 [2021-03-03; online 2021-03-03]
Keeping schools open was an active strategy in Sweden to meet the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article we analyze how a collection of welfare state agents with different tasks, resources and interests in interaction formed an assemblage in their responses to the pandemic and how education thereby became part of a strategy to keep the society going. The inquiries concern what this tells us about education as framed and constrained as a part of society. Our observations are based on statements presented by the government and public agencies, mass media and websites. We identified an assemblage of interwoven agents such as institutions, laws, regulations and recommendations, pandemic manuals, statistics and media. All these were brought together by actions and ideas to handle a pandemic when there were no preventive vaccines. The overarching principle was to educate the population to competent actions in dealing with the pandemic. To keep schools open was part of that principle combined with caretaking ambitions. This assemblage looked like a centralistic machine but it was not; risks were pushed back to local authorities and schools. In conclusion, we note that education is vital in the overarching strategy to deal with the pandemic in Sweden in terms of trust in people and governmentality.