School and the Making of Social Class

The State-Controlled Education and the Construction of Class-Identities in School Texts from 1860 to 1930

The project seeks to heighten our knowledge on how the public schools as a part of the state contributed to class formation and construction of class identities during the formation of an industrial capitalist society. This is carried out by analysing how social strata, inequality and occupational groups was described in school texts (primarily textbooks) in the public school system. By this approach the project also seeks to contribute to generalizable and contemporary relevant didactical knowledge on how school texts shape social formation and class reproduction. As the school system at this time period was segmented (with elementary schools for the working classes, special girl schools for girls of the middle and upper classes and grammar and secondary schools for middle and upper class boys) it becomes possible to study differences in how educational texts for different schools with children from different social strata depicted ideal social orders with rich and poor, mineworker and industrialists, and how groups were assumed to have different characteristics. Through a discourse analysis of texts from different parts of the school system (ranging from textbooks, lesson descriptions, and teacher manuals to student essays) the project will create knowledge on social meaning-making and offerings of social identities and about the students’ possible reception of and identification with this content, which could be labelled class formation.

Last modified: 2022-03-10