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On Developments in Ethnographic Research: The Case of Two Swedish Universities
University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT. University of Gothenburg, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5970-5556
Institutionen för beteendevetenskap och lärande, Linköping University, Linkoping, Sweden.
2022 (English)In: International Journal of Qualitative Methods, E-ISSN 1609-4069, Vol. 21Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The past 40 years have formed a transitional period in Sweden’s education and political history. The social democratic reforms from the 1940s that aimed to create a centralised, expanded and integrated comprehensive education system came to an end. Decentralisation, neoliberal governance and the introduction of new public management with the creation of private schools and competition have shaped the policy regime since then. Ethnography emerged in Swedish educational research as a significant research methodology during this transitional period. Using a qualitative and quantitative investigation of research dissertations that classified and counted the use of ethnography as either classical (using core references and long-term participation research at one or a limited number of sites), or adapted (used within adaptations to other research methods), the present article explores these developments at two universities. It suggests that Swedish education ethnography has developed along similar kinds of historical trajectories to ethnography in other places, with roots similar to those in other European countries, though also with some variations. For instance, as elsewhere, ethnography needed a breakthrough point in Swedish education research. It got this in the 1980s. However, it quickly became an important part of educational research from the 1990s onwards and a strong quantitative take off early in the new millennium followed. Presently more than half of all PhD dissertations in Education at the two universities have some kind of participant observation, over half of which are also classically ethnographic. This leads us to conclude that education ethnography in Sweden has changed across its period of growth and that though configured in contemporary social science as having originated in anthropology as a methodology that employed long-term embedded participant observation, this does not limit the variations of ethnography’s development or its application.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022. Vol. 21
Keywords [en]
case study, interpretive description, secondary data analysis, historical narrative, ethnography
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Teacher Education and Education Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-28293DOI: 10.1177/16094069221084432ISI: 000827526400001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85134346141OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-28293DiVA, id: diva2:1684442
Available from: 2022-07-26 Created: 2022-07-26 Last updated: 2024-02-01Bibliographically approved

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Beach, Dennis

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