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Studiecirkeln: Livslångt lärande - på svenska!: En icke-formell mötesplats för samtal och bildning för alla
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2001 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Study Circle: Lifelong learning - in Swedish! : A non-formal meeting place for discussion and learning for all (English)
Abstract [en]

The present thesis is a study of a pedagogical phenomenon; an account of one of the flagships of Swedish popular education; an attempt to understand the study circle as a learning environment.

Study circle work has a special place in the country’s adult education, and assumes the dimensions of a mass-phenomenon in present-daySweden. An estimated 1.2 to 1.6 million people every day take part in one of the approximately 330,000 study circles arranged by the country’s 11 study associations, where they can study any imaginable subjects and practice different skills.

The present research approach is qualitative and based on the fundamental concept of discourse. The concept is used as an analytical instrument for delimiting, structuring and creating meaning in the phenomena studied. The phenomenon popular education in general and the study circle in particular are elucidated from three central perspectives:

  • the development of modern civil society during the twentieth century,
  • national (popular) educational policy during the same period, and
  • that of contemporary study-circle members.

Insights gained from the first two perspectives – the ”ideal” and the ”political” – have formed an important backdrop of understanding against which it has been possible to render the third perspective - the ”experienced” – comprehensible. The study-circle-member perspective is examined using a qualitative interview survey with circle members and circle leaders from nine socially-oriented study circles.

The results indicate that the language of popular education has remained basically unchanged since the beginning of the twentieth century. It has enjoyed a relative autonomy vis-à-vis both the organisations of civil society and the state, despite a very intimate relation with these. At the same time the state and civil society have been able to make use of popular education to fulfil their respective purposes; civil society to achieve political influence and the state to implement its educational-policy goals. The most obvious change in the discourse of popular education appears to have occurred during the latter part of the twentieth century with the focus on the private individual’s educational projects. In virtue of its time-honoured pedagogical concept there is much to indicate that popular education is establishing itself as a competitive actor on the open educational market. At the same time the popular educational institutions constitute a societal opportunity structure for the education of all, adapted to the challenges and the demands for life-long learning of the new era – the Information Age.

The study circle can also function as a network of individuals in civil society, representing an environment for collaborative learning and democratic education for citizenship.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: HLS Förlag, 2001. , 338 p.
Studies in educational sciences, ISSN 1400-478X ; 40
Keyword [en]
study circle, popular education, civil society, non-formal education, collaborative learning, life-long learning, citizen education
Keyword [sv]
studiecirkel, folkbildning, civilt samhälle, icke-formellt lärande, kollaborativt lärande, livslångt lärande, medborgarbildning
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-71584ISBN: 91-7656-499-1OAI: diva2:485268
Public defence
2001-06-06, 10:00
Available from: 2012-01-29 Created: 2012-01-28 Last updated: 2016-06-21Bibliographically approved

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Gougoulakis, Petros
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