Religious Education research in welfare state Denmark

A historical and institutional perspective on an epistemological discussion

  • Mette Buchardt Aalborg University


The article deals with forms of knowledge and types of research interests in scholarly work on Religious Education at the primary and lower secondary levels in Denmark throughout the heyday of the welfare state from the 1960s and up until the 2000s, when the welfare state model not least with regard to education was in transition. The point of departure is the work and oeuvre of K.E. Bugge, for many years – and remaining until now – the last professor of Religious Education in Denmark, namely at the Royal Danish School of Education (Danmarks Lærerhøjskole) which reorganized as Danish University of Education in 2000. The article situates his doctoral dissertation “The school for life. Studies concerning the pedagogical ideas of N. F. S. Grundtvig” (1965) in its institutional context and compares the forms of knowledge it produced with three PhD dissertations defended during the 2000s and thus in a changed institutional field. Drawing on the conceptual understanding of the field of educational sciences deriving from Hofstetter and Schneuwly (2002), the article analyzes ways of doing research in and related to Religious Education and the scholarly disciplines involved. Focus will be on the relation between the academic disciplines studying religion and the educational sciences in their many disciplinary forms and on the relation between the field of sciences and the field of educational practice.