Indicators and Responsiveness to Population Decline: School Closures as Practice and Discourse in Saxony-Anhalt
- Bartl, Walter (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg)
- Sackmann, Reinhold (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg)
The object of this analysis is the practice of school closures, since it constitutes a key response to demographic decline and is usually hotly disputed in regional discussions on demographic change. Our research is guided by two questions: How do political and administrative responses to demographic decline emerge? How are practices of school closure publicly portrayed and discussed in newspapers? We assume that in democratic welfare-regimes the spatial allocation of school infrastructures is mediated by the use of key administrative indicators allowing the calculation and public deliberation of questions of education infrastructure policy. However, a democratic political culture of ‘governing by numbers’ develops in transformation societies only as a result of collective learning processes in which the participants acquire what we call ‘democratic numeracy’. In the stratified German school system the different school types are unequally conferred social prestige, with the Gymnasium being the most prestigious school type. Hence, it is likely that the elements of the school system are not affected equally by policy responses to demographic decline and public attention which affects spatial inequalities. Empirically, the article follows a mixed-methods approach with an emphasis on a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of school closures in the regional press of Saxony-Anhalt from 1990 to 2014. The results show that in the transformation process the relevance of an indicator-based governance of school infrastructure increases both in practice and in discourse. However, with an increasing democratic numeracy of participants the use of numbers becomes politicised. With respect to the pattern of school closures Gymnasia receive a disproportionately large share of public attention. This affects their survival chances positively and diminishes differences in spatial distances between Gymnasia and integrated secondary schools.
Update Metadata: 2019-08-01 | Issue Number: 7 | Registration Date: 2016-06-08