Dealing with Religious Diversity: The Aims and Realities of Religious Education in Sweden
2015 (English)In: The State as an Actor in Religion Policy: Policy Cycle and Governance Perspectives on Institutionalized Religion / [ed] Maria Grazia Martino, Berlin: Springer, 2015, 119-132 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
In several Western countries there is now a growing awareness that teaching RE may contribute to greater social cohesion in an increasingly diverse society. This chapter examines the relationship between the official aims and intentions of the Swedish state regarding RE and school students’ attitudes to this subject. It argues that we must consider the cultural context in which such education takes place; in this case, Sweden has developed over a short period of time from a mono-cultural society with a Lutheran state church into a religiously and culturally diverse society, while the country can furthermore be seen as highly secularized on the individual level. The aims of RE are analyzed through the study of official documents. Students’ attitudes regarding RE and religious and cultural diversity are monitored by a nationally representative classroom questionnaire, and with observations drawn from focus group interviews with students aged 18–19 in upper secondary schools. The investigation presented in this chapter leads to the conclusion that there is currently a gap between the lofty intentions of the state regarding the teaching of RE and students’ attitudes to it. This reflects how Swedish society constructs itself as secular by depicting being religious as the “other.” An urgent task for future studies is, therefore, to identify how the teaching of RE could be further developed so as to better realize the current high aims for the subject in a society as increasingly diverse as the Swedish one.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin: Springer, 2015. 119-132 p.
secularization, education, religion, school, state policy, secular, "the other", attitudes, youth
Religious Studies Political Science
Research subject Sociology of Religion
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-228282DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-06945-2_6ISBN: 978-3-658-06944-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-228282DiVA: diva2:733452
ProjectsImpact of ReligionTystnad, konflikt eller exotism? Synen på religion och religionskunskap bland elever och lärare i gymnasieskolan i mångkulturella Sverige
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2007-8656Swedish Research Council, VR 2007-8139