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Title"Det borde vara att folket bestämmer" : en studie av ungdomars föreställningar om demokrati
AuthorEriksson, Cecilia [ Arensmeier ]
PublisherÖrebro universitet, Samhällsvetenskapliga institutionen
PublisherÖrebro : Örebro universitetsbibliotek
Subject(s)democracy; democratic theory; conceptions of democracy; democratic opinions; youth; citizens; political socialisation; school and democracy; focus groups; demokrati; demokratiteori; föreställningar om demokrati; demokratiuppfattningar; ungdomar; medborgare; politisk socialisation; skola och demokrati; fokusgrupper; Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies); Statsvetenskap (exklusive studier av offentlig förvaltning och globaliseringsstudier)
AbstractThis study primarily investigates the conceptions of democracy held by young Swedes: What conceptions can be found? How are these conceptions similar to and different from each other? My main intention is to present nuanced pictures of different ways of viewing and of arguing for and against democracy. Some attention is also paid to possible differences between different youth groups, in terms of age, gender, and socioeconomic background. In addition, I will relate the investigation to research concerning school and the socialisation that is supposed to take place there. What concepts of democracy do Swedish schools seem to inculcate in students? Theoretical discussions of democracy serve as the framework of the study, and throughout the work democracy is regarded as an ambiguous concept. I have designed an analytical tool by depicting the discussions of democratic theory from three perspectives. The first concerns what democracy is and how the rule of the people should be designed. The second deals with the justifications for democracy, and why it is or is not to be preferred. The third perspective focuses on some crucial matters in discussions of democracy. The empirical material analyzed consists of ten focus group interviews with students in two age categories: 14–15 and 18–19 years old. The groups were composed so that the members would include both genders and a range of socio-economic backgrounds. The main idea of focus group interviews is to take advantage of group-interaction dynamics. Opinions are often formed in interaction with other people, and since consideration and reflection are central concerns of this thesis, focus group interviews are thus very suitable. The findings indicate that there is a dominant understanding of democracy. The young people interviewed emphasize that democracy means that everybody has a right to participate in decision making, that, for example, universal suffrage and freedom of speech are necessary features and that democracy in practice connotes an elite/electoral democracy (at the national level) with politicians as the real power holders. Although some features of Sweden’s existing democracy are widely criticized, democracy as a fundamental concept is celebrated. The main justification for this support is that democracy includes everybody. A view of everybody’s equal value is implicit. The critical matters highlighted concern human nature in relation to democratic requirements, how to handle extremist political movements, and the limited possibilities and unequal opportunities for people to participate in the existing democracy. Within this overall picture, somewhat different conceptions can also be detected. Two themes are particularly prominent in the discussions. Without overtly mentioning the word, the young people interviewed strongly emphasize the concept of equality. One line of discussion concerns the participants’ own experiences of being subordinate to adults, another the concept that equality presupposes equal opportunities to influence society. Democracy is also considered to be a human matter. Notably,when speaking of equality and freedom, the interviewees rarely mention these words directly. Mention of political institutions is also lacking from the discussions. Some of the findings can be regarded as reflecting the conceptions of democracy manifested in and passed on by schools. The study may also provide some guidance concerning how to approach social and political issues in the school.
TypeDoctoral thesis, monograph; info:eu-repo/semantics/doctoralThesis; text