The Social Studies Subjects and Interdisciplinarity


  • Daniel Nyström Umeå University


interdisciplinarity, comparative subject didactics, social studies, upper secondary school, civics, geography, religious education, history, tvärvetenskaplighet, heinz heckhausen


This article examines the ways in which the term tvärvetenskaplig is conceptualized within the social studies subjects (geography, religious education, civics, and history) in Swedish upper secondary school. The term tvärvetenskaplig is generally translated as interdisciplinary. Through a comparative analysis of syllabi (ämnesplaner), subject didactic textbooks, and schoolbooks, existing descriptions of the term are identified. These descriptions are in turn analyzed using theoretical perspectives on interdisciplinarity. The article agrees with the viewpoint that interdisciplinarity is a form of progressive discourse. Moreover, the analysis employs Heinz Heckhausen’s typology of interdisciplinarity, which differentiates between indiscriminate, pseudo, auxiliary, composite, supplementary, and unifying interdisciplinarity. It is concluded that different subjects ascribe different understandings of interdisciplinarity to the concept of tvärvetenskaplighet.