Konfirmandernas bildningsresa: ungdomars berättelser om sitt deltagande i konfirmandundervisning

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The tradition for teenagers to participate in confirmation groups and be confirmed was formerly very strong in Sweden. Up to the 1970s, approximately 80-90 % of all young Swedes were confirmed. But in 2007, these courses were only attended by 37 %, according to the latest Church of Sweden statistics (Svenska kyrkan 2007a). The Aim of the thesis is: Using a Bildung perspective, the aim of the present thesis is to interpret young people’s narratives about their participation in confirmation courses, in order to contribute to an understanding of meanings of the confirmation period. For the purposes of this thesis, ‘Bildung’ is defined as “the notion that knowledge, or at least certain types of knowledge, fundamentally changes and develops human beings” (Liedman, 2002, p. 351). The cornerstone of the Bildung perspective is the idea that the individual is changed by knowledge. Bildung consists of a free and endless process that starts in each individual’s unique life experience. Knowledge is based in the individual, and curiosity is viewed as a resource in our quest for knowledge (Gustavsson, 1996). A hermeneutical approach was applied in the course of the thesis work. This approach made it possible to interpret the material and shed light on the meanings it included. The young people I interviewed were encouraged to tell their own story. Six groups of young people in the process of preparing their confirmation contributed with material for the thesis. Finally, a total of 15 young people participated in the study. This is what the interviewees said: Before the confirmation period: When young people choose to be confirmed, their choice is not just a choice between being confirmed or not, but also about choosing a camp or choosing to be confirmed in their own (or some adjacent) parish. Very few declare that they chose to be confirmed to receive confirmation gifts. The most frequent case is that several factors influenced their choice, in particular tradition and what their friends do. The confirmation period: The interviewees find that they are more positive to the confirmation course than they had anticipated. They have had an experiences that they enjoyed and appreciated. The fact that the confirmation course is not compulsory is important. To be offered the possibility to make their own choice, to choose confirmation themselves, is something the interviewees describe as essential. Several of them say that they appreciate that they could think for themselves, and that they were encouraged to think freely and independently. It was important that they could think freely together with other young people, not just think freely on their own. After the confirmation period: The interviewees say that they experience that they have changed, and that their relation to the world around them has also changed. They have changed their view of the Church, and to some extent developed a relation to God. Several of the young people interviewed intend to continue in the youth programmes of the Church, and/or work as a youth leader. Patterns of change: The interpretation of the meanings of the confirmation period is extended in the patterns of change. For the young people who were interviewed, the confirmation period is part of their life project, while confirmation is viewed by some of them as a stop on the way. Several of the interviewees say that they have changed in various ways. There is no direct link between this change and their situation when they started the confirmation period, or to the confirmation group they participated in. The fact that they were treated respectfully is emphasized in the interviews. When the interviewees talk about respect, it is both a question of how they were treated by their leaders, and the relationships between members in the group. The interviewees finally explain that their confirmation period was a stimulating experience, because they were given the opportunity to gain knowledge by exploring independently. They were invited and challenged to take standpoints and think for themselves.

Original languageSwedish
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Pedagogy (50301)


  • bildung
  • confirmation
  • confirmation classes
  • hermeneutic
  • religion
  • religious education
  • youth

Cite this