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Ideological Dilemmas in Leisure-time Centers: The Swedish Schools Inspectorate and the Concept of Meaningfulness
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Child and Youth Studies.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Child and Youth Studies.
2015 (English)In: Nordic Studies in Education, ISSN 1891-5914, E-ISSN 1891-5949, Vol. 35, no 3-4, p. 313-331Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

When discussing children’s leisure-time centers in Sweden, talk about their activities is often couched in terms of meaningfulness. This appeal to «meaningfulness» can be seen as a useful but also a troublesome rhetorical resource. When educational authorities formulate institutional assignments, they must accommodate opposing views and yet meet certain political recommendations. An analytical perspective both informed by Michel Foucault’s writings on ‘governmentality’ as well as Michael Billig’s notion of ideological dilemmas will in this study be harnessed. Principally, this study investigates the ideological tension between democracy and authority, which the governmental authority, ‘The Swedish Schools Inspectorate’, must take care of in its linguistic work. This paper argues that the concept of meaningfulness is used in order to bridge various contradictions surrounding the democracy-authority dilemma.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 35, no 3-4, p. 313-331
Keywords [en]
Ideological dilemmas, rhetoric, the concept of meaningfulness, The Swedish Schools Inspectorate, Leisure-time Centers
Keywords [sv]
Ideologiska dilemman, retorik, meningsfullhet, Skolinspektionen, fritidshem
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-135494OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-135494DiVA, id: diva2:1045658
Available from: 2016-11-10 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2018-02-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Konsten att producera lärande demokrater
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Konsten att producera lärande demokrater
2018 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
The art of producing learning democrats
Abstract [en]

This dissertation builds on the basic question of how individuals are formed and created as citizens in society today, and how individuals construct themselves as citizens in this society. It takes interest in how they are managed to govern themselves through specific constructions of citizenship, and looks at how the exercise of power establishes certain knowledge that affects their view of themselves and generates truths about how they are expected to live their lives. Simultaneously, the dissertation deals with the concept of freedom: what does it mean in contemporary society, how can one be free today, and what dangers might this liberty involve?

In a broad sense, the analysis centres on the relationship between education and society; more specifically, it engages with the Swedish education system and its construction and production of desirable citizen subjects. The concrete example deals with the institution called leisure-time centre, with a purpose to investigate and problematise how institutionalised leisure-time is staged and legitimised in Sweden today. The studies take as a common starting point the following research question: how are children and personnel governed discursively in and through leisure-time centres?

The first empirical contribution provides historical context for the study. In this, the `problematic leisure-time´ of today is outlined based on education policy documents relevant for children aged 6–13 years. These texts are discussed together with similar texts gathered from two other periods in history in order to give perspective on aspects of the leisure-time centre that may seem obvious in our own time.

The first separate article investigates how talk about activities in leisure-time centres is couched in terms of meaningfulness and consists of an analysis of the ideological tension between democracy and authority, which the governmental authority, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen), must address in its discursive work. 

The second article explores how the production of systematic reporting and documentation by personnel in leisure-time centres works through specific self-technologies in the form of confessional practices and which can be said to be primarily about constructing a free but loyal collective subject.

The third article problematises the use of democracy as a method to produce specific citizen subjects in leisure-time centres. Children’s councils are analysed, focusing on how different nuances of influence are staged discursively by participating children and personnel. The article highlights how democracy – through pastoral care and in the name of children’s influence – becomes a governmentalising technology that produces an active, responsible and learning citizen.

In summary, this dissertation highlights how leisure-time centres are staged and legitimised in Sweden today. The analysis shows how an administration of children and control of the development of society through the autonomous, competent, and voluntarily active individual is apparent; power operates through a perceived freedom in a way that makes the free choice the `right´ choice. With political ideas about forming a forward-looking mentality, children – and personnel – are constructed as a project of learning and improvement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Barn- och ungdomsvetenskapliga institutionen, Stokcholms universitet, 2018. p. 101
Keywords
leisure-time centres, governmentality, pastoral care, ideological dilemmas, subjectification, confessional practice, constructions of desirable citizens, education, learning, Fritidshem, governmentality, pastoral omsorg, ideologiska dilemman, subjektivering, bekännelsepraktik, medborgarskapande, utbildning, lärande
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-151870 (URN)978-91-7797-133-7 (ISBN)978-91-7797-134-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-04-06, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-03-14 Created: 2018-01-25 Last updated: 2018-03-06Bibliographically approved

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