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Ruptured narratives: An analysis of the contradictions within young people's responses to issues of personal responsibility and social violence within an educational context
Uppsala University, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Curriculum Studies. (SIDES, DICE)
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis addresses the problems of social violence which are based on stereotyped prejudices, and directed towards people who differ from the norm, and asks how education aiming at counteracting social violence can be understood. Within education, the aspiration to contest social violence is generally motivated by a democratic framework stressing distributive justice and everyone’s equal value. The promotion of justice has recently become linked to the development of individuals’ moral responsibility in ways which overlook relational complexities. In contrast to a developmental approach, the intention with this thesis is to explore how education can be understood by using nine young people’s responses and sense of responsibility(-ies) in relation to others’ life circumstances as a starting-point for analysis. Hence, the investigation delves into the relationship between moral action and justice/injustice within the unpredictable field of culture, outside the notion of a democratic (moral) foundation. Using an ethics of alterity, which advocates a respect for difference, it is possible to claim that young people already are (unconditionally and unlimitedly) responsible as seen in their everyday responses to others’ life circumstances. The question at stake is rather what they choose to do with their responsibility. An ethics of dissensus, on the other hand, is used to acknowledge the embodiedness of human relations which now and then can be accompanied by unintended reactions, power relations, and contradictions – all of which necessary to pay attention to when social violence is discussed. An ethics of dissensus creates a link to Julia Kristeva’s subject-in-process, and to ruptured narratives, which has been used as an analytical lens in this investigation.

The results of the thesis indicate that the youths already are forced to face other people’s more or less harsh life circumstances. Furthermore, all of the young people portray themselves as persons who do not want to expose people to harm and at times even as persons who want to promote others’ well-being. These ideal self images, however, collide with other forces which place these ideals on trial. A comparison between the young people’s narratives indicates two things. Firstly, although they sometimes use the same word when they describe their sense of responsibility, the meaning they assign the word differs along with their possibilities of action. Secondly, there is a notable distinction between young people who in concordance to the educational discourse position their sense of responsibility in the future and within knowledge acquisition, and those who chiefly position their sense of responsibility in their everyday interactions by using the resources available. Another result of the analysis is the evidence of a gap between the concept of democracy and young people’s everyday responses. Overall, the young people’s ruptured narratives shed light on how they contribute to the creation of social violence as well as to how they promote others’ well-being in ways, which challenge the foundation in democracy as an educational possibility to contest social violence on several points.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2009. , 245 p.
Studia didactica Upsaliensia, ISSN 1654-8426 ; 2
Keyword [en]
Young people (youth), social violence, oppression, difference, justice, injustice, moral responsibility, culture, ruptured narratives, subject-in-process, politics, democracy, education, curriculum theory
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-100944ISBN: 978-91-554-7517-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-100944DiVA: diva2:211369
Public defence
2009-05-27, Universitetshuset sal IX, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2009-05-06 Created: 2009-04-14 Last updated: 2010-07-19Bibliographically approved

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