Students at a school strike for the climate.

School in Society - Students, Principals, and Teachers as Political Subjects

Research project
Active research
Project size
5 900 000
Project period
2021 - ongoing
Project owner
Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies

Short description

The project studies students, teachers and school leaders who engage politically based on their role and position in the school. These can include students who go on school strike for the climate or engage in political activism against racism and sexual harassment, school leaders who raise their voices for students' right to wear a veil, and teachers who fight for students who do not receive a residence permit. In the project, we follow various cases that arise during the project where political activism arises in intersections between the school and political contexts outside the school.

The purpose is to investigate how teachers, students and school leaders emerge as political subjects in the polarized political landscape of our time, and the role of the school in enabling them to become as political subjects.


The activism that the project is interested in is largely a response to anti-democratic, radical and nationalist political movements that have gained increasing influence around the world, including in Sweden.

The project studies when and how pupils, teachers and school leaders emerge as political subjects in a specific political situation characterized by the fact that democracy is threatened. Political subjectivity can go in different directions. In parallel with the school strike for climate change, the fight for girls'/women's right to their bodies, and for all students to complete their education, teachers and students who oppose gender pedagogy, LGBTQ rights, teaching about sustainable development and anti-racism also appear. The situation can be described as a struggle for the role of the school in society. The project studies how this struggle is expressed by students, teachers and school leaders in local contexts. We will follow various conflicts that make the school and those who are there political subjects and objects.

Purpose and implementation

The purpose of the project is to investigate how teachers, students and school leaders are created as political subjects in today's polarized political landscape in connection with political battles related to the school. This is done by examining:

  • what actions and initiatives make students, school leaders and teachers become political subjects?
  • what opportunities and limitations for political activism arise in relations between the local school, municipal politics, national politics, authorities and transnational movements, and
  • how political initiatives, actions and subjects become important for the school's role in and for society.

A key concept for understanding these processes is political subjectivity. Political subjectivity is characterized by the following three experiences:

  1. The present is problematic.
  2. Society, identity or subjectivity could be different.
  3.  I/we can act to change the current situation.

The project focuses on situations where this process is expressed in political action. To study this, researchers follow processes, people, discourses, or conflicts. They follow political battles in social and other media, in practical political work, and in local, national, and global manifestations. There can be many political battles with a relation to schooling during the project period. The events that will be studied are characterized by the local struggles being linked to national or international politics and transnational movements. Another selection criterion is that these are events that together lead to a varied set of data. By highlighting students, teachers, and school leaders as political subjects, the project produces knowledge about the role of the school in how society is shaped.


  • Eva Reimers, Department of Pedagogical, Curricular an Professional Studies, University of Gothenburg
  • Lena Martinsson, Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg
  • David Lifmark, Department of Pedagogical, Curricular an Professional Studies, University of Gothenburg
  • Jeanette Sundhall, Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg
  • Ulla Lundqvist, Oslo Metropolitan University
  • Cecilia Wewel, master in human rights