The Cultural Politics of Sex Education in the Nordics

  • Stine H. Bang Svendsen


This chapter discusses the cultural politics of sex education in the Nordic context, where comprehensive sex education (CSE) has strong political support and is integrated in primary and secondary education. The chapter suggests that Nordic sex education should be understood in light of the region’s longstanding self-image as the beacon of sexual progressiveness, but also its history as the kernel of Whiteness in Europe. The chapter points out that CSE in the Nordics separates between “objective” sexual health education and moral and political issues in ways that continue to suggest that traditional Northern European sexual norms are scientifically based, good, and developed as opposed to those of other cultures. The inclusion of queer critiques in social science curricula has so far not disturbed this order.



Thanks to Mary Lou Rasmussen and Elisabeth Stubberud for valuable feedback on drafts of this chapter.


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© The Author(s) 2017

Open Access This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stine H. Bang Svendsen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Programme for Teacher EducationNorwegian University of Science and Technology NTNUTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Network for Feminist Research, Department of Media, Culture and SocietyUniversity of StavangerStavangerNorway

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