This text aims to give an overview of the study circles as a tradition and state of the art at present time. The point of departure is primarily the Swedish context, even though there are some comments about study circles elsewhere. This focus is justified by the fact that although study circles do appear worldwide, their status in Sweden as a mass phenomenon is rather unique and has attracted attention from outside observers. Academic publications written in English about the Swedish study-circles do, however, exist, but only a few are recent. Drawing on results from empirical research done by Swedish researchers, as well as public statistics and evaluations, our ambition is to portray the study circles and their institutional context in Sweden.
First, there is a discussion about definitions, pointing out the lack of an exact notion of the study circle, but also suggesting an approximate answer – a study circle grammar. In order to provide a deeper understanding of the realities, there are also some very concrete examples, with respect to content and process. The idea is to communicate a richer and more down-to-earth meaning.
The same thought is applied to the second part, where participation and outcomes are presented. These are based on recent statistics, but also reports about the study circles from the participants’ point of view - their experiences and understandings.
The administrative and economic support system is important for the operation of the study circles and consequently, it is described in a rather elaborate way in the third part. We think it will help readers to have some knowledge of this context for the Swedish study circles, which we think is different elsewhere.
Finally there is a bibliography of literature on study circles in Sweden and internationally. The ambition of the bibliography is to capture as much as possible, written in languages that can be read by an international audience. A number of useful web addresses are also included in order to provide easy access to important resources. The bibliography will hopefully be a tool for those who want to learn more.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2010. , 47 p.