Conflict over Confirmation Teaching in Public School the Impact of Neoliberal Policies on Local Political Level in Denmark

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: Harbor Lounge B
Oral Presentation
Brian Arly JACOBSEN , University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
The neoliberal discourse is part of a larger shift from democratic to neoliberal policies that has been occurring over the past decades; a shift accompanied by both discursive and structural changes in society. If the neoliberal discourse is transforming the core functions of government globally, then this must also be true in the case of the close co-operation between the Danish state and the national church in Denmark. In this paper the cases of conflict over and transformation of the position of confirmation teaching in Denmark is analyzed in order to find out if the changes is a result of neoliberal policies in Denmark or simply a matter of structural changes caused by another rational basis. In Denmark confirmation teaching is part of the public schools timetable according to the Primary Education Act. Municipalities in Denmark have according to the Primary Education Act the right to place the confirmation teaching after school but until recently it was the tradition to place the confirmations teaching with the local vicar in school. Local politicians are now beginning to alter this tradition. The basic argument used by local politicians is that the changes are necessary due to efficiency improvement of the public schools (after the merging of public schools) and more efficient utilization of the public schools timetable. Confirmation teaching is by the reform politicians seen as part of the private sphere and the National Church’s claim for confirmation teaching in school is seen as an ineffective tradition, which is not corresponding to the state policies efficiency requirements for teaching and efficient operation of public schools. The friction over confirmation teaching is not only about the position of confirmation teaching in or out of school but a case showing consequences of how the neoliberal discourse is transforming religious authority in Danish society.