”Alla är ju med alla…” : Kamratskapande gruppinteraktioner i skolan

Sammanfattning: Social interaction often takes place in groups. The school class is an important group in which children interact. Children spend a large percentage of their day with their classmates in school and classmates are not only co-workers, but also individuals interacting socially as friends. Several studies show that social interaction and friendship in school effect children’s wellbeing, academic performance and identity development. Furthermore, the compulsory school is the only mandatory social arena in today´s society. For that reason the school has a distinct function as an institution where childhood is regulated and normality and deviation is defined. This implies the teachers to work with children’s social interactions. Thus, the understanding of group affiliation and friendship interaction in school is of great importance.The main aim of the thesis is to further the knowledge of children’s interactions and friendship making group processes that takes place within a school class. The research questions focused on (a) how children interact within a school class, (b) how children describe these interactions and (c) how children’s interaction relate to the school’s formal organization. The empirical material was collected inspired by an ethnographic approach. A range of qualitative methods were used: participatory observations, individual and focus group interviews and retrieval of policy documents. The participatory observations were performed in a fourth grade school class of 23 children at the age of 10-11 years. The children were observed and interviewed, both individually and in focus groups during a period of one school year (2011-2012). An interview with the two teachers were also conducted. The analysis was performed from the perspective of interactionism and group psychology with an emphasis on Randall Collins theory of interaction ritual chains. The results in the study shows that children’s interactions, understood as friendship making group processes, consist of a chain of interaction rituals. The interaction ritual chains influences both how the interaction between children is performed and how the children’s interactions relate to the school’s formal organization. Different forms of belonging emerges through the emotional energy generated in the children’s interactions. In large group interaction the belonging is understood as a feeling of affiliation with the classmates and the school class as a whole. In small group interaction the belonging is understood as a feeling of togetherness with friends and within the play group. The results pointed out how these two forms of belonging influence the teacher’s work with children’s social interaction in school. On one hand, the children seem to integrate the school norm “everyone may join” in their large group interactions. On the other hand, the children are seeking the feeling of togetherness and emotional energy that small group interactions with friends generate. This, in turn, creates a tension between the children’s interactions and the school’s formal organization.