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Framing work and play in a small village school
Linköping University. (socialpsykologi)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7569-3292
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Framing work and play in a small village school

 

Abstract to

The 12th Annual International Ethnography Symposium

Stream Visual Ethnography

at The University of Manchester 29 august-1st september 2017 

 

johan näslund (Social Psychologist) and Åsa Nilsson Dahlström  (Social Anthropologist)

both senior lecture’s at The University of Linköping, Sweden.

Contact: johan näslund, johan.naslund@liu.se

Introduction

Up until the late 20th century, small village elementary schools, connected in many ways with the church, provided education for most rural children in Sweden. With increasing urbanisation and the centralisation of public services in Sweden, small village schools are increasingly abandoned in favour of larger schools that can accommodate more pupils, have more efficient services, be more democratic and not connected with any special church communion.

Background

Village schools, like Kyrkskolan (Church School) in the village of Bankeryd, provided the local children with much more than formal education, it also functioned as an arena for play and social acceptance. The closing down of Kyrkskolan has meant that children are referred to the larger schools where they lack a local social connection and respect for their individual differences. This has also meant that the tolerance for social difference has changed. Pupils with social or cognitive challenges who were accepted as persons in the local village school become both invisible and hyper-visible in the larger schools, when they are collectively stigmatised together with other pupils with similar challenges.

In the age-integrated school classes at Kyrkskolan, pupils of different ages worked and played together inside and outside of the school buildings, where also previous generations of local people have worked and played – thus uniting village people of different ages in their shared experiences of the same school, the gestalt of the school. The social life of a village school therefore fundamentally expresses local identities and values over time, beyond the school context.

The research

Researching, visually documenting and framing, the social life of a village school thus requires more than finding the aesthetically most pleasing photographic and analytical angle. In order to access the meaning of the social life of a place, the researcher must move beyond being merely an occasional observer, to become a participant observer. It is through the shared experiences of those places that the researcher can approach their meanings and be able to represent the places and the people from an insider’s point of view. By regularly participating, observing and respecting school work and play over a longer period of time in a naturally occurring way, the researcher is able to identify what characterises that social environment, how it is understood by the other participants, and therefore how it can be documented and presented in a meaningful way.

For the researcher of this project, it did not become apparent what the research was about until late in the photographic process. Instead of zooming in on the work, the research suggested that the meaning of the social life of the school children should best be pictured within a framework of work as play. This paper deals with the methodological challenges faced by the ethnographer/photographer, and discusses the interplay between place, time and representation, as well as the aesthetics of photography as a means to picture peoples’ lives. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-141838OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-141838DiVA: diva2:1147936
Conference
The 12th Annual International Ethnography Symposium Stream Visual Ethnography at The University of Manchester 29 august-1st september 2017
Available from: 2017-10-09 Created: 2017-10-09 Last updated: 2017-10-09

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