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First language paradigms in conflict: Hidden dialogue in Swedish curricula 1962–2011

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Seven successive curricula for Swedish in the Swedish primary school are investigated using a linguistic method that traces its origin to the Russian literary theorist, Michail Bakhtin. The amount of dialogicity, viewed as the room given to different paradigms to argue against each other, is shown to decrease from the earlier curricula to the later ones. The few dialogues in the later curricula are also shown to be vague in character, making it difficult to attribute the voices to different paradigms. It is argued that this vagueness is in keeping with the tradition of corporatism in Sweden, where consensus is reached at the cost of less clarity and concretion. It is rather the clarity of the earlier curricula that demands explanation and some explanations are tested. In the most recent development, politicians have lost their interest in the wordings of the curriculum and concentrate on formulating goals for different grades. By doing so, they steer the subject of Swedish in the direction of the Swedish as Skills paradigm, with the suppression of Swedish as Personal Growth or Swedish as Critical Literacy, very much imitating the corresponding New Labour programme in England.
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Keywords: Swedish; corporatism; curriculum voice; dialogism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Scandinavian Languages,Stockholm University, SE-10691Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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