A1 Journal article (refereed)
The ‘spirit of the times’ : fast policy for educational reform in Finland (2021)

Hardy, I., Heikkinen, H., Pennanen, M., Salo, P., & Kiilakoski, T. (2021). The ‘spirit of the times’ : fast policy for educational reform in Finland. Policy Futures in Education, 19(7), 770-791. https://doi.org/10.1177/1478210320971530

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Hardy, Ian; Heikkinen, Hannu; Pennanen, Matti; Salo, Petri; Kiilakoski, Tomi

Journal or series: Policy Futures in Education

ISSN: 1478-2103

eISSN: 1478-2103

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 19

Issue number: 7

Pages range: 770-791

Publisher: SAGE Publications

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1478210320971530

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/72933


This article examines the nature of neoliberal influences upon educational policy making in the Finnish education system in recent times. The article draws upon key policy documents, government reports, journal articles and media articles about reforms in the early childhood, basic/compulsory school and vocational education and training sectors to evidence these processes. Analytically, these reforms are understood as instances of what has been referred to as ‘fast policy’. Methodologically, we draw upon principles of zeitgeist analysis to reveal the features and effects of these fast policy influences as they relate to educational provision in Finland. These features and effects include intensification and fragmentation of educational reform processes, increased individualisation and decontextualization of the educational reform agenda, and a trend towards increased instability, privatisation and reduction in funding for educational provision. The article foregrounds the features and effects as reflective of the ‘spirit of the times’ in which such reforms are undertaken, and cautions against these fast policy effects for the problematic consequences they appear to be having upon policy making processes, educational outcomes in Finland and the ‘spirits’ of Finnish educators.

Keywords: education policy; political decision making; educational systems; school reform; zeitgeist; neoliberalism

Free keywords: fast policy; educational reform; neoliberalism; zeitgeist analysis

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2021-13-10 at 10:31