The The Social Studies Subjects and Intersectionality: Multi-categorical Approaches in Upper Secondary Education


  • Daniel Nyström Umeå universitet


Upper secondary education, Social Studies, Intersectionality, Gender Mainstreaming, Anti-discrimination, Comparative subject didactics


This article studies how the social studies subjects – civics, geography, history, and religious education – in Swedish upper secondary education describe and conceptualise the categories of gender, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. The background is that the syllabi stipulate that analytical perspectives based on these categories should be used to interpret subject-specific content. These categories connect implicitly and explicitly to intersectionality theory and to anti-discrimination policy making. Through a text analysis of syllabi and textbooks, the article revolves around the questions: What kind of multi-categorical approach is being constructed in the different social studies subjects? How does that relate to intersectionality theory? Is the purpose of a multi-categorical approach to fight against discrimination? The result shows that there are slightly different emphases being made depending on school subject. History and geography give priority to the category of gender, whereas civics and religious education present a more varied utilisation. All subjects employ a so-called additive intersectional model, where categories are treated separately. Civics and religious education include discussions of both identity constructions and structural factors. Geography and history focus mainly on a structural level. Religious education is the only subject that explicitly discusses intersectionality theory. To the extent that writings with an anti-discriminatory message occur, the message is often that it is important that the individual show respect and tolerance towards others.


Daniel Nyström, Umeå universitet

Daniel Nyström is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Education, Umeå University, Sweden. His research concerns comparative subject didactics in upper secondary education and historiographical perspectives on higher education and social science and humanistic research.