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The construction of social inclusion through music education: Two Swedish ethnographic studies of the El Sistema programme

Journal article
Authors Monica Lindgren
Åsa Bergman
E Sæther
Published in Nordisk musikkpedagogisk forskning : Årbok
Volume 17
Pages 65-81
ISSN 1504-5021
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Academy of Music and Drama
Pages 65-81
Language en
Keywords social inclusion; music education; discourse analysis; El Sistema; culture; agency; space
Subject categories Music education


Drawing on theories from sociology and music education, as well as closely linked disciplines, the article discusses how social inclusion is constructed in the choir and orchestra school El Sistema. The objective of the programme in Sweden is to use music as a vehicle for individual and social development as well as to serve as an intercultural meeting place and thereby for social inclusion. The results, generated from two ethnographic studies, in Gothenburg and Malmö, show that there are different ways of constructing social inclu- sion within El Sistema. Viewed from an integrative sociological perspective on music education, the students are primarily positioned as representatives of the El Sistema community, rather than as independent agents in control of the music and their learning. However, the programme also allows for tem- porarily interrupting the community rationale by enhancing teachers’ agency and allowing the children to participate on their own terms—though this is mainly limited to the social events.

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