Vi och dom och alla dom andra andra på Komvux : etnicitet, genus och klass i samspel

Detta är en avhandling från Department of Sociology

Sammanfattning: This thesis, set in an educational context (Swedish Komvux, high school adult education), deals with how groups of us and them are constructed, changed and reproduced. In order to understand the processes of us and them I have looked at the interconnections between gender, ethnicity and class utilising participant observations and semi-structured interviews. The main theoretical points of departure have been feminist theories, theories on ethnicity/ ‘race’ and class and the theories of Elias on Established and Outsiders (1964/1999), Tilly on durable inequality (1998) and Bourdieu & Passeron on the reproduction of societies through education (1977). Gender and class are fields of research that have received a lot of attention in Sweden, yet little research has been done on how gender, ethnicity and class intersect. It is a new and relatively underdeveloped field of research, but also one that has grown in importance over the last few years. Education has proven to be a setting where gender, class and ethnicity/‘race’ are immensely important. These concepts are important when examining how social relations are structured and organised in every society. They are also very important in individual lives. On a theoretical level they are easier to understand as they can be separated analytically. Contextuality is the key to understand them on an empirical level as they move in and out of focus. In relation to ethnicity, I have also argued that the concepts of ‘race’ and racialisation ought to be brought into the discussions of eg ethnicity, cultures and immigrants. ‘Race’ is not as an essential category (any more so than gender, ethnicity or class), but rather a social construct that has an important bearing on people’s lives, especially on how people, in this case students, are being categorised and seen as immigrants. The discussion of ‘race’ is also a recent one in Sweden, a country still very much perceived as egalitarian and where, so far, the concept of ethnicity has been favoured. The thesis shows how we, the white Swedes, are seen and constructed as the majority at Komvux, and how they, the immigrants, are the others. However, the understanding of us is very much taken for granted and hidden behind perceived normality. Groups of us and them are created by perceptions of gender, class and above all ethnicity/‘race’. Amongst others I am using Elias’ theory to understand how us and them are created and maintained, although an important critique of this theory is that it does not to a great extent acknowledge variation and hierarchies within the groups of us and them or how the groups can overlap. This is most clearly shown by the divide into the other others, ie immigrants perceived as even more other, more them, than the immigrant students in the study. I have shown that us and them are not clear cut categories between Swedes and immigrants - groups often perceived as being essentially different - but rather involve processes of change, resistance and negotiation and also different forms of hierarchy.

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