Choosing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme : Transnational Students creating Social Differentiation through School Choice in the Swedish Education Market
Abstract: It is estimated that by 2025 there will be approximately 8.26 million students enrolled in over 15,000 international schools globally. This increased expansion of international schooling cannot be disconnected from a process of globalisation where neoliberal policies have influenced the growth of education markets. International schooling arrives as a welcomed option to students and families looking for alternatives to national programmes which are perceived to be rigid and unchanging in a new globalised economy. With enrolment rates increasing over twenty percent in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East regions, the International Baccalaureate Organisation is perhaps the fastest growing educational group offering international schooling around the globe. In this qualitative comparative case study, fourteen students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) across four schools were asked about their experiences in the process of school choice in the Swedish education market. Semi-structured interviews were employed to explore student’s motivations and strategies in choosing the IBDP over national programmes. Utilising a grounded theory methodology linked with Bourdieu’s theories on symbolic capital, the study attempts to understand student’s choice behaviours. Findings revealed that regardless of social or educational background, students share similar motivations and strategies for choice making. Further analysis demonstrated that a collective perception of the IB alongside similar ideals of self-identity and class influence and legitimise their choice behaviours. The implication of these findings demonstrate that choice behaviours in the Swedish education market work to establish a degree of social reproduction and differentiation.
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