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Construction of ethnicity, immigration and associated concepts in Swedish vocational education and training

Journal article
Authors Per-Åke Rosvall
Kristina Ledman
Mattias Nylund
Maria Rönnlund
Published in Journal of Education and Work
Volume 31
Issue 7-8
Pages 1-15
ISSN 1363-9080
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Pages 1-15
Language en
Keywords Vocational education; immigrants; intercultural education; racial bias
Subject categories Pedagogy, Educational Sciences


Surges of migration into Sweden and other European countries have raised needs to adjust civic education to provide Bernsteinian pedagogic rights of enhancement, participation and inclusion, both generally and in VET specifically. However, associated issues have received little research attention even in countries with colonial histories and longer traditions of immigration and non-native ethnic minorities. Moreover, most published empirical studies on race and ethnicity issues in VET have had Anglophone settings. Thus, research in other contexts is needed to broaden understanding and distinguish between general and contextspecific aspects. This article addresses gaps in knowledge of the construction and significance of race and ethnicity in VET, particularly in Swedish contexts. First, it examines how critical understandings of being an immigrant, immigration and ethnicity are constructed in pedagogic practices in Swedish VET programmes, then analyses students’ and teachers’ discussion of these issues. Content related to immigration and ethnicity was sparse in monitored VET classes, but the presence of immigrants increased instances of both spontaneous and planned content. We conclude that pedagogic practices do not reflect the large increase in numbers of students in Swedish schools with immigrant backgrounds, and greater intercultural awareness is needed to safeguard their pedagogic and general democratic rights.

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