Understanding implementation gaps in honour-related violence & oppression policy : A case study exploring the promises and pitfalls faced by teachers when implementing policy in a Swedish school environment
Abstract: Honour-related violence and oppression has been politically prioritised in Sweden during the past two decades. National policies have been formulated, laws adopted, and the school has been identified as a crucial actor for preventing this type of violence at the local level. Yet, the prevalence of the violence still constitutes a threat to the freedom and safety of children and youths in the Swedish society. To gain a deeper understanding about the apparent discrepancy between policy and practice, this study adopts a micro-level perspective and zooms in onto the actors responsible for implementing existing policies. Teachers from four different purposefully selected schools have been interviewed. Drawing on insights from street-level policy implementation theories, the study explores how the teachers work to implement the National Agency for Education’s policy targeting honour-related violence and oppression. Notably, Lipsky’s analytical categories for successful street-level policy implementation, comprehension, capacity and will, function as point of departure. The broad nature of the categories have allowed for contextual insights to be included and a number of constraining and enabling mechanisms for successful micro-level policy implementation to be identified. The findings demonstrate how the teachers’ access to information is contingent upon their personal interest in the topic or on other individuals’ commitment. The large room for manoeuvre permits teachers to use their creativity to include the perspective of honour, but likewise allows for misunderstandings and resistance to influence the policy outcomes. The lack of clear bureaucratic goals, limited resources and a high level of discretion force teachers to find their own strategies to adequately implement the policy. To deal with increased pressure they are however likely to resort to simplifications and familiar routines. In turn these may obstruct at-risk students from receiving appropriate support. Finally, the findings confirm the importance of taking the strategies, decisions and motivations of implementing actors seriously when trying to understand policy success or policy failure.
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