Högskolans skriftserier

Toleransens altare och undvikandets hänsynsfullhet

Religion och meningsskapande bland svenska grundskoleelever

Omslag för Toleransens altare och undvikandets hänsynsfullhet: Religion och meningsskapande bland svenska grundskoleelever

Jahnke, Fredrik

In contemporary western society, the changing religious diversity brought to the fore a more visible religion. The Swedish school and the Swedish classrooms are no exception. From a perspective of sensemaking and a wide understanding of religion and religious positions this thesis analyses the discourse on religion among pupils (age 9 to 16) in the Swedish elementary school and under what circumstances they do, or do not, talk about religion with each another. 

This qualitative study includes themes from and contributes to the study of religion, research on children and young people, and particularly to religious education (RE) in Sweden and elsewhere. The results show that the pupils during the interviews showed different and parallel ways of understanding, relate to and way of talking about religion. However, to some degree they seemed to be unwilling to talk about religion with each other, even though they expressed some interest thereof. Two reasons for this were their limited common discourses on religion, and their concern and anxiety to create conflict and to “step on somebody’s toes”. The latter was also combined with their tendency to show tolerance, respect and deference towards each other. Thirdly, due to their partial lack of discourses on religion the pupils had difficulties to position themselves in relation to religion and to understand others. For instance, this came to the fore and was exemplified by the non-Christian Swedish pupils. They seemed to lack categories to speak of themselves in relation to religion and, for instance, answer questions like: “What do you believe in?”.

Even though the pupils did not talk much about religion with each other, the result shows that they had several ways of talking about and understanding religion and religious phenomena – for instance based on popular culture. Not all these understandings and discourses on religion where paid attention to in school or in class. Instead, the pupils had to adapt to discourses prevalent in school which narrowed the possible ways of understanding and talking about religion. In line with this, there were several positions in relation to religion – for instance unsure and uncertain positions – in these schools that was not observed. However, these pupils also have the need to express and understand themselves in relation to religion as well as being understood by others. This is a future challenge for RE-research as well as teaching in schools.

The results of this study show, lastly, that the experience and desires expressed by the pupils concerning talking about religion differed to a great extent from the use of dialogue in RE-research. Among the pupils it seemed that the conversation about religion was sacrificed on the altars of tolerance, respect and deference. These results were discussed in relation to the concept of safe space, a concept that needs to be elaborated and sharpened further in RE.

Huddinge : Södertörns högskola, 2021. 330 sidor.

ISBN 978-91-89109-55-1

Serie: Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, 1652-7399 ; 186

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