Segregation, Class, “Race” and School Violence

  • Kristina Hunehäll BerndtssonEmail author
Part of the Young People and Learning Processes in School and Everyday Life book series (YPLP, volume 2)


In Sweden, social and ethnic residential segregation has increased in recent years, making residential areas more ethnically and socio-economically homogeneous. As a result of this, social class differences can be seen in relation to the social status of an area. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight school violence from a contextual perspective. The chapter illustrates how school violence is understood and handled by principals and student health teams. The location is at two secondary schools located in two demographically diverse areas. The catchment areas of the schools differ in terms of socio-economic level and ethnicity, and the students and their families represent different social classes: ethnic white upper-middle class and immigrant lower working class. A comparison between the two schools shows that the strategies used by principals and student health teams differ. At the school located in an upper-middle-class area, the school staff adapted to expectations and demands from the upper-middle-class parents. At the other school located in a lower-working-class area with only immigrant students, the school staff adapted to expectations from other authorities (such as the social services and the police). These two cases indicate that the Swedish education system adjusts to students’ social class and “race” based on the descriptions of principals and student health teams about school violence and violations. This chapter shows how segregation, class, place and “race” play a decisive role in schools’ institutional practice, and challenge the image of the Swedish education system as a cornerstone of Swedish society.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education, Communication and LearningUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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