Stockholm university

Rebecca YeSenior lecturer

About me

My research takes place at the intersection of education and labour worlds, and pays special attention to vocations, transitions, trajectories and temporality. Understanding how social processes and practices reduce or generate uncertain and unequal outcomes, in and around educational organisations, has been a focal point in my various research projects. Through these endeavours I have been afforded opportunities to analyse education-to-work pathways that are institutionalised as well as pathways that are emerging and anticipatory. Relatedly, I have conducted research on educational processes and organisations with long histories (*elite institutions), newer educational forms (*higher vocational education), and processes that are undergoing change (*transnational education strategies). 

I am Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Education and affiliated researcher at the Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE), Stockholm University. In previous years, I have been a visiting academic at the Nanyang Technological University and the Institute of Education. Before life in academia, I worked in the foreign service as well as conducted research for policy and practice at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Institute for Adult Learning in Singapore.

I earned my PhD in Sociology at Stockholm University and Master of Science in Sociology at the University of Oxford.

Research projects at the crossroads of the sociology of education and work:

Drawing on register data, interview data and archival material, our team has been working on an in-depth, mixed methods project that examines the expansion of higher vocational education (yrkeshögskolan) in Sweden. The project combines approaches from sociology, demography and education to examine processes of differentiation and selection in participation, how changes in participation are taking place alongside expansion and population changes, and how justifications for higher vocational education participation are enacted within local labour markets. This project is funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR).

In a second stream of research, I revisit the notion of "sponsored mobility" by examining a specific type of education to work trajectory: one where students are selected early and sponsored to study abroad in elite universities, with the obligation to return to their home country to take on a vocation in the public service. The project analyses institutional stability and change in a national scholarship programme and identifies the kinds of modification in the valorisation of knowledge acquired by future governing elites over time.

Since 2023, I am part of a six-year multidisciplinary research environment project, funded by the Swedish Research Council, that examines how educational transitions are shaped by boundaries and places for first-generation migrant children and youth. 

From Autumn 2023-2024, I will be working on an inititative, "Organizing Education" at SCORE. I have served on several advisory and editorial boards such as the International Studies in Sociology of Education, Stockholm Centre for Global Asia, and Springer Lifelong Learning Book Series, and have also served as a reader and on grading committees for PhD projects. More on my ongoing research and publications can be found here.


Presently at the Department of Education at Stockholm University, I am course leader for Theory of Science, a mandatory course on our international masters programme. In recent years, I have led in a course where we critically examine and reflect on educational planning, been part of teaching teams involved in methods training (both introductory and in-depth), specialised literature, education and development, courses on educational policy, international perspectives and comparative education.

Earlier at the Department of Sociology, I taught on Sociological Theory, methods and sociological analyses courses, as well as on the cross-departmental masters programme in human relations on sociological perspectives on organizations. 

I have supervised undergraduate theses and master theses, and am currently main and co-supervisor for PhD research projects at Stockholm University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. 


Selected publications

Ye, Rebecca and Erik Nylander (Forthcoming). Conventions of skilling: The plural and prospective worlds of higher vocational education. European Educational Research Journal.

Ye, Rebecca. (Forthcoming). "The transformation of anticipatory governance in skilling regimes". Keynote at the Researching Work & Learning Conference.

Ye, Rebecca. (Forthcoming). “Vocationalism at higher levels of education”. In Sidhu, R., Waters, J. and Cheng, Y-E. (Eds.) Elgar International Encyclopedia of Sociology of Education. Edward Elgar.

Imdorf, Christian; Böker, Arne; Normand, Romuald; Schnejiderberg, Christian & Ye, Rebecca. (Forthcoming). “Education and Conventions: Potentials, Empirical Findings, Challenges and Desiderata of Convention Theory in Education”. Historical Social Research.

Ye, Rebecca, and Erik Nylander. (2023). “The Scholars: Talent management techniques and gender inequality in state-sponsored scholarships”. In Tayeb, A., Metro, R. & Brehm, W. (Eds.) Education and Power in Contemporary Southeast Asia. Routledge.

Chudnovskaya, Margarita, Erik Nylander, and Rebecca Ye. (2023). “Skills and adult educational choice: Gender (in)equality in a new form of Swedish vocational education”. In Tåhlin, M. (Ed.) A Research Agenda for Skills and Inequality. Edward Elgar.

Ye, Rebecca, Chudnovskaya, Margarita and Erik Nylander (2022). Right competence at the right time -- but for whom? Social recruitment of participants in an expanding higher vocational education segment in Sweden (2005-2019). Adult Education Quarterly, 72(4), 380-400.

Ye, Rebecca (2022). Testing elite transnational education and contesting orders of worth in the face of a pandemic. Educational Review74(3), 704-719.

Ye, Rebecca. (2021). Schooling for government: institutionalised sponsored mobility and trajectories of public service scholarship recipients in Singapore (1979-2018). Journal of Education and Work, 34(4), 518-532.

Ye, Rebecca. (2021). Rituals of vocational socialisation: faith-building in higher vocational education for weak-form occupational pathways. Vocations and Learning14(2), 353-368.

Ye, Rebecca and Erik Nylander. (2021). Deservedness, humbleness and chance: conceptualisations of luck and academic success among Singaporean elite students. International Studies in Sociology of Education30(4), 401-421.

Ye, Rebecca. (2020). Reality tests: navigating education to work transitions into weak-form occupations. Journal of Education and Work, 33(3), 242–253.

Ye, Rebecca. (2018). The Aspirants: How Faith is built in Emerging Occupations. Stockholm Studies in Sociology, New Series no. 73. (Doctoral dissertation, monograph).  

Ye, Rebecca. (2016). Transnational Higher Education Strategies into and out of Singapore: Commodification and Consecration. Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia 4(1), 85-108.

Ye, Rebecca, and Erik Nylander. (2015). The transnational track: state sponsorship and Singapore’s Oxbridge elite. British Journal of Sociology of Education 36(1), 11-33.

*This article was awarded the best early career researcher paper in BJSE and has subsequently been included as a chapter in the following books: 

Elites in Education: Major Themes in Education, edited by Agnes van Zaten (2018)

New Sociologies of Elite Schooling, edited by Jane Kenway and Aaron Koh (2017)

Selected public scholarship pieces

Ye, Rebecca (2021). Lucky in a meritocracy? Examining conceptualisations of luck and academic success in Singapore. AcademiaSG.

Ye, Rebecca (2020). Student migration during a global health pandemic. Discover Society.

Research projects