Samma konflikter men olika inramning – Kontroversiella frågor relaterade till Mellanösternkonflikterna i religionskunskap och samhällskunskap


  • Karin K Flensner Högskolan Väst


religious education, social studies, controversial issues, conflicts, classroom observation


The conflicts in the Middle East are not confined to a geographical area but have both a global and a local dimension. International conflicts, crises and acts of terrorism have consequences in the classroom practice, partly because current events are part of the content in social studies subjects, but partly because an increasing number of pupils have personal experiences and/or personal views on different aspects of these conflicts, also in relation to nationalist, xenophobic, antisemitic and islamophobic discourses. The overall aim of this paper is to investigate and compare how the Middle Eastern conflicts and related topics are raised within Religious Education and Social Studies. Are there differences in content and ways of talking in Religious Education compared to Social Studies and, if so, how? What implications have different subject framings for discourses and perspectives and hence, what becomes possible to learn? The study is based on participatory classroom observations of Religious Education and Social Studies at Swedish upper secondary schools. Interviews with teachers and focus group interviews with pupils have been conducted. The analyses indicate that migration, terrorism, anti-semitism, and islamophobia were major themes raised in relation to the conflicts in both subjects. The experiences of pupils largely affected classroom discourse. However, there were differences between how the conflicts were framed and discussed. In Religious Education, it was more common for teachers to downplay conflict perspectives and emphasize empathy, similarities and existential features while in Social Studies there was greater focus on formal ways of dealing with conflicts in terms of regulations and institutions.