Can Portals Calculate? - A Study of Public E-Services in Educational Markets

Lars NORÉN, Agneta Ranerup


The relationship between the individual and the state is more often than previously mediated by public e-services. An emergent phenomenon in this respect is the various forms of devices supporting choice of education that are provided through portals. Thequestion dealt with in this article is: How do portals containing different devices support choice in  educational markets? Two portals run by national public authorities in Sweden concerned with educational issues have been chosen as material for the analysis. A first conclusion is that the devices integrate a sequence of advanced calculations, which aim to contribute to a choice of education. Secondly, we can distinguish between a mechanical and a pedagogical character of integration. A third conclusion is that thedevices connect the objectives of government authorities with choices in educational markets and are therefore part of public policy implementation. Finally, it is argued that the seemingly simple procedures for calculation might affect people’s entire lives, a fact which adds an ethical dimension to the design of this kind of public e-services.

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