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Writing for life? A case study of affordances of writing in four L1 upper secondary classrooms

Journal article
Authors Pernilla Andersson Varga
Maj Asplund Carlsson
Published in L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature
Volume 15
Issue 3
Pages 1-19
ISSN 1567-6617
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 1-19
Language en
Keywords Writing, pedagogic device, pedagogic identity, social reproduction, social interruption, horizontal discourse, vertical discourse
Subject categories Languages and Literature, Didactics, Pedagogy


During the period of 1994–2011 all programmes in Swedish upper secondary school comprised a set of core subjects with the aim to entail equity on the policy level. However, a division between programmes still prevailed on the school level, particularly in the core subject L1 Swedish. The main purpose of this study has been to explore how the teaching of writing in two academic and two vocational programmes differs, which writing repertoires are developed and how writing is assessed. The study is part of a long-term ethnography of writing in upper secondary school (Andersson Varga, 2014). The data produced during the two-year field study contain field notes from writing lessons, lesson observations and talks with four teachers, as well as recorded and transcribed, semi-structured teacher and student interviews, instructions on writing tasks, student texts and teachers’ responses to student texts. This article focusses on the preparation for the National Test, the afforded assignments, the realisations of the student texts and the assessment. The teachers in the four programmes handle the national syllabus in relation to the students, resulting in four different curricula in the classroom. Thus, issues of inequity, disparities in curricula as well as different expectations on students, depending on programme, became obvious. To understand the processes of social reproduction, we use Bernstein’s sociology of education (1996, 2000) and the concept of the pedagogic device and pedagogic identity. However, we also show one example of interruption (Singh, 2013) in one of the four classrooms. Thus, the main results demonstrate how one particular teacher brings about change to a group of working class girls.

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