Modern, svensk och jämställd: om barn familj och omvärld i grundskolans läseböcker 1962-2007

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The aim of the thesis has been to explore representations of gender, ethnicity and generation in school readers used in the Swedish compulsory school since 1962, to find which ’discourses’, linked to equal opportunities, integration/diversity and childhood, underlie these constructions, and in which ways they may have contributed to the (re)production of different gendered, ethnified and generation-specific subjects. The thesis was written within the frame of a Swedish national research project that explored late modern processes of changing sex- and gender orders in schools and education, particularly in multiethnic environments, which is why, the study is not limited exclusively to sex/gender. These aspects were instead considered in an intersectional perspective, in their interplay with dimensions such as ethnicity and generation. The adopted perspective combines a historical and a discourse analytical approach. This means that the reader texts have been viewed as social constructions in the historical context of their periods, shaped by norms, ideals and values prevailing at the time. One of the ambitions of the thesis has been to bring these texts to life, using a broad and varied theoretical frame, and also to let the texts speak for themselves as far as possible. The theoretical framework was therefore developed in the course of the analysis, in interaction with the analysed texts. The analysis incorporates structural and post-structural theoretical influences and concepts, including feminist and postcolonial notions. The basis is formed by critical multi-modal applied discourse analysis. By using discourse analysis, theory and method are considered as the same. The approach does not aim to produce a homogenous or general picture, but rather strives to highlight the heterogeneity of the texts and to make discursive changes visible. The mutual relationships and correspondence between the texts and their historical contexts has made this possible. More than 60 readers were examined. The process of reading involved two stages: an initial reading, searching for structures, followed by a deconstructive reading. The results are presented in five chapters, contextually linked to the corresponding national curriculum periods. The long period of time examined has meant that several shifts in discourses within the discourse orders in question could be described and elucidated. The thesis also clearly shows that the reader texts have become more heterogeneous and ambiguous over time, and how their subject constructions are characterized by a succession of older as well as more recent discursive fragments. Yet the most noticeable finding of the analysis is that the ’colonial white Western’ discourse remains comparatively unchanged throughout the period. It can be seen as the most stable and unchanging discourse order exhibited in the material, although a certain shift can be perceived in the most recent readers. The earliest readers set out in upper middle-class environments. As the policy of recognition and identities develops, the perspective turns towards solidarity, equal opportunities, and working-class views, in the 1970s and 1980s. By the turn of the millenium, the readers again depict what could be considered as a new middle-class perspective, developed through the emergence of discourses, and characterized by reversed generation hierarchies. The second very prominent discourse observed in the material is a ’hetero-normative discourse of difference’, that paradoxically has evolved within the discourse order of equal opportunities. On the one hand, contemporary readers appear to advocate equal opportunities. Girls and women are frequently positioned as strong individualists, compared to apparently softer boys and men. Nevertheless, a tendency of positioning the otherwise independent girl as a partner to the actual protagonist, the reader boy, can be noticed in the millennium readers. This is basically a question of a traditional hierarchy, where women are subordinated to men. The striking point is that the old nuclear family ideal has progressively been replaced by another ideal of heterosexual twosomeness. Subordination is therefore today a question of a more or less sexist Western discourse, highly influenced by a massmedial discourse. Possibly it could be argued that the displacement is partly also a matter of a reversed generation perspective. The earlier white middle-aged bourgeois patriarchal perspective is thus replaced by a white Western new middle-class teenage ideal, tracing its roots back to an originally masculine youth culture. In the couple relationship – by contrast to the family – contemporary, more individualized ideals are expressed.

Original languageSwedish
  • Tallberg Broman, Ingegerd, Supervisor, External person
  • Evaldsson, Ann-Carita, Supervisor, External person
  • Edgren, Monika, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Pedagogy (50301)


  • childhoods
  • compulsory school
  • discourse analysis
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • generation
  • intersectionality
  • readers
  • textbooks

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