Project

The Politics of Linguistic Minority Education: The Swedish experience

Goal: A co-authored research monograph, which presents a comprehensive account of the conditions for multilingual education in Sweden. Grounded in history, politics, and culture, this task includes scrutinizing various educational initiatives targeting linguistic minorities, including autochthonous groups such as the Sámi and Torne Valley Finns as well as later-day immigrants to Sweden. The Swedish experience, we think, presents an intriguing case, and so provides a welcome contribution to the international literature.

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Linus Salö
added 2 research items
This article investigates mother tongue instruction (MTI) in Sweden and Denmark in a historical, comparative perspective, with a view to accounting for key differences in language policy enacted in educational fields. Whereas in Sweden, MTI is offered to linguistic minority children irrespective of their linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, in Denmark the right to state-sponsored MTI has been abolished for children of non-European descent. Moreover, while the policies of both states devalue skills in mother tongues other than the legitimate language of each society, this position is more pronounced in the Danish context. The article explores the two state’s position on MTI, as expressed in policy as well as in discourse produced in the political and academic field of each state. It subscribes to Pierre Bourdieu’s framework, within which state policy is conceived as the product of historical struggle and cross-field effects. The analysis shows that the national differences in MTI exist because of the differing ways in which agents from the academic vis-à-vis the political field have succeeded in imposing their visions in the bureaucratic field from which policies are produced. Ultimately, this circumstance explains why the Swedish discussion on MTI may be characterized as having been academically founded, while the Danish discussion has remained a matter of political consideration. In the latter case, we argue, it is particularly tangible that MTI is a politicized object of struggle, where agents seek to control the exchange rate of linguistic resources and, in effect, the social worth of different speakers.
This article investigates mother tongue instruction (MTI) in Sweden and Denmark in a historical, comparative perspective, with a view to accounting for key differences in language policy enacted in educational fields. Whereas in Sweden, MTI is offered to linguistic minority children irrespective of their linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, in Denmark the right to state-sponsored MTI has been abolished for children of non-European descent. Moreover, while the policies of both states devalue skills in mother tongues other than the legitimate language of each society, this position is more pronounced in the Danish context. The article explores the two state’s position on MTI, as expressed in policy as well as in discourse produced in the political and academic field of each state. It subscribes to Pierre Bourdieu’s framework, within which state policy is conceived as the product of historical struggle and cross-field effects. The analysis shows that the national differences in MTI exist because of the differing ways in which agents from the academic vis-à-vis the political field have succeeded in imposing their visions in the bureaucratic field from which policies are produced. Ultimately, this circumstance explains why the Swedish discussion on MTI may be characterized as having been academically founded, while the Danish discussion has remained a matter of political consideration. In the latter case, we argue, it is particularly tangible that MTI is a politicized object of struggle, where agents seek to control the exchange rate of linguistic resources and, in effect, the social worth of different speakers.
Linus Salö
added 2 research items
For half a century or more, semilingualism has been a controversial-much debated and much derided-idea. The present paper engages with some facets of this history. It traces the formation and early circulation in its context of origin: Sweden's nascent fields of bilingualism research and minority education. The paper analyzes semilingualism as a 'traveling idea', which has moved through networks of actors over an extended period of time. In Sweden from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, semilingualism was a key theme a range of discursive exchanges. It circulated in scholarly discussions about bilingualism and linguistic competence, and surged as a central theme in political debates on minority education, immigration and language policy. It likewise recurred in the media, and in various articulations of public opinion. In the course these travels, the idea of semilingualism became more and more implicated in the processes of revising Sweden's policies on linguistic minorities. By the 1970s, as the paper argues, the idea had begun to function as a 'policy-driver', which aided the 1977 nationwide introduction of the school subject of mother tongue instruction (MTI) for minority students. While most linguists have come to dismiss semilingualism as a scientifically flawed concept, the idea of semilingualism, as the paper shows, had nevertheless a decisive impact in policy making. This impact is still visible the inclusion of MTI in Sweden's national curriculum. This societal impact of this sociolinguistic idea, as well as the lasting consequences thereof, points to the importance of a reflexive sociolinguistics, which takes interest in the life and afterlife of the ideas it produces. The paper contributes to this endeavor.
Linus Salö
added a project goal
A co-authored research monograph, which presents a comprehensive account of the conditions for multilingual education in Sweden. Grounded in history, politics, and culture, this task includes scrutinizing various educational initiatives targeting linguistic minorities, including autochthonous groups such as the Sámi and Torne Valley Finns as well as later-day immigrants to Sweden. The Swedish experience, we think, presents an intriguing case, and so provides a welcome contribution to the international literature.