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Dealing with Religious Diversity: The Aims and Realities of Religious Education in Sweden

Chapter

Abstract

In several Western countries there is now a growing awareness that teaching RE may contribute to greater social cohesion in an increasingly diverse society. This chapter examines the relationship between the official aims and intentions of the Swedish state regarding RE and school students’ attitudes to this subject. It argues that we must consider the cultural context in which such education takes place; in this case, Sweden has developed over a short period of time from a mono-cultural society with a Lutheran state church into a religiously and culturally diverse society, while the country can furthermore be seen as highly secularized on the individual level. The aims of RE are analyzed through the study of official documents. Students’ attitudes regarding RE and religious and cultural diversity are monitored by a nationally representative classroom questionnaire, and with observations drawn from focus group interviews with students aged 18–19 in upper secondary schools. The investigation presented in this chapter leads to the conclusion that there is currently a gap between the lofty intentions of the state regarding the teaching of RE and students’ attitudes to it. This reflects how Swedish society constructs itself as secular by depicting being religious as the “other.” An urgent task for future studies is, therefore, to identify how the teaching of RE could be further developed so as to better realize the current high aims for the subject in a society as increasingly diverse as the Swedish one.

Keywords

Focus Group Interview Religious Diversity Swedish Society Christian Tradition World Religion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Religion and SocietyUniversity of UppsalaUppsalaSweden

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