Saturday 15 April 2023
08.30 - 10.30
Children's Agency, Civic Activism and Protests
Jonathan Josefsson, Björn Lundberg & Joel Löw :
What is (not) New about Young People’s Political Protest?
In recent years, media across the world have reported on political mass mobilization by children and youth and their efforts to push policy change on issues such as climate change, racism, police violence and migration. As a result, we can note an increasing scholarly interest in children and young ... (Show more)
In recent years, media across the world have reported on political mass mobilization by children and youth and their efforts to push policy change on issues such as climate change, racism, police violence and migration. As a result, we can note an increasing scholarly interest in children and young people as political actors and their opportunities to participate in global politics from a various set of disciplinary angles and fields of research (Ansell 2017; Beier 2020; Holmberg & Alvinius 2019; Holzscheiter 2016; Holzscheiter et al 2019; Josefsson & Wall 2020; de Moor et al 2019, 2021). Some scholars have described the public protests by children and youth as representing “a historical turn” and as “a new form of resistance pursued by children” that is unique in its visibility, tactics and global scope (Ansell 2017:233; Holmberg & Alvinius 2019; de Moor et al 2019, 2021). The claims made seems literally to be that children and young people’s political protest constitutes a new and unprecedented phenomenon of our time.
Well aware of that children and young people have gained access to completely different means and forums for political protest, activism and influence during the last two decades, and that social media brings access to global networks and a closeness that cannot be compared to a historical equivalent, we are in this article striving to get a glimpse at the core of the labelled uniqueness of today. In this review of historical literature our guiding questions are: What kind of “historical turn” do today's mobilization of children and young people really mean? What is new and what is not about children and young people´s political protest? What are the historical legacies of children and young people’s mass mobilization, tactics and strategies that today´s young protests movements build on? The historical review demonstrate how young peoples political agency and public protest is by no means new, but rather constitute an historical continuity. Yet aspects of it take obviously new forms in new contexts and constitutes indeed a critical area in need of more research. Yet that also connect a various set of disciplines and fields. The disconnection between readership and disciplines seem to explain some of the misunderstanding present in current debates. To meet this challenge, there is a need for an expanded transdisciplinary scholarly agenda into the history of children and youth political protests. (Show less)
Bengt Sandin, Jonathan Josefsson :
The Reform that Never Happened: a History of Children’s Suffrage Restrictions
In this paper we will discuss the history of children’s voting rights in Sweden, or more to the point, the restrictions on voting rights for children below the age of 18. Internationally, Sweden stands out as a provider of substantial foreign aid and a defender of human rights in the ... (Show more)
In this paper we will discuss the history of children’s voting rights in Sweden, or more to the point, the restrictions on voting rights for children below the age of 18. Internationally, Sweden stands out as a provider of substantial foreign aid and a defender of human rights in the international community, not least with regard to children and young people (Lindkvist, 2018; Stern, 2014). Despite the striking advances in implementing children’s rights in Sweden in the latter part of the twentieth century, and despite the fact that proposals to expand children’s right to vote have continuously been filed, as we will demonstrate, this has so far had no effect on lowering the voting age. At the same time, we may note how a growing number of countries have lowered the voting age to 16 or 17 during the same period (Eichhorn & Bergh, 2021). In that light, we are curious about why the strengthening of children’s social and political rights in Sweden during the period after 1974, when the voting and eligibility age was set at 18, did not also result in a further lowering of the voting age? Why has the lowering of the voting age not continued?
In the paper we explore historical restrictions on children’s voting rights and possible explanations why age limits to voting rights have not been lowered in recent decades. It is a study of how various initiatives and proposals thus far have not been able to find a place at the centre of Swedish political debates. Our analyses, based on public records, demonstrate that the long historical process and compromises that established universal adult suffrage in 1921 also created a number of institutional conflicts around the age of voting, such as the difference between the age of majority and the age of voting as well as the different ages for voting for different levels of government. These issues were resolved step by step between the late 1930s and the early 1970s. In this process, it was firmly established that voting is associated with the age of majority, and, furthermore, that the age of voting is an issue of constitutional importance that must be resolved in the context of constitutional considerations. This process did not exclude change. On the contrary, during the 1960s, reforms accommodated both a novel understanding of the role and value of the participation of the younger generation that warranted a voting age and age of majority of 18 years of age. The notion that the voting age stands in intimate relationship to the political and consensual changes of the constitution was reinforced during the 1950s and 1960s. In the period after 1970 the voting age has not been reduced largely because of institutional, policy, and political barriers to change as a part of the development of democratic institutions. The Swedish case can serve as an illustration of the complexity of the historical factors that influence changes in the age of voting, and the interplay between national and international processes. (Show less)
Karolina Szymborska :
Paidocracy Revisited. A Dangerous Utopia or a Chance for the Future of Education?
The author proposes to redefine the twentieth-century category of paidocracy and its socio-cultural applications in contemporary culture and education. The current theories of children studies, boyology, new historicism, postcolonialism, world-systems theory, and the theory of hegemony will be used to read this phenomenon. Based on literary and artistic stories, as ... (Show more)
The author proposes to redefine the twentieth-century category of paidocracy and its socio-cultural applications in contemporary culture and education. The current theories of children studies, boyology, new historicism, postcolonialism, world-systems theory, and the theory of hegemony will be used to read this phenomenon. Based on literary and artistic stories, as well as pedagogical and sociological conceptualizations (including projects by Janusz Korczak, Bronis?awa Bobrowska, Bruno Schulz, Feliks Koneczny, Paul Hazard, etc.), the author will analyze different forms and mechanisms of “children’s republic” (textual, visual, and performative). Reconstruction of the traces of a child included in the power relations is not only aimed at revealing unknown “childstories” in normative history, but it allows reestablishing the autonomous childhood spaces that build a child’s political “identity regained”. The marginalized history of children’s periphery societies turns out to be an essential supplement to shaping civic attitudes and building the image of “enfant politique”. Finally, the author will try to answer the title question of whether the “republic of dreams” is a phantasm, delusion, dangerous utopia, or a laboratory of modern democracy, an avant-garde chance for future education. (Show less)
Charlott Wikström (e) :
Folkbildning as a Social Counter-movement in Sweden 1912–1918 with Birkagården as an Example
During the mid-1900s Sweden underwent a process of change in light of industrialization, urbanization, and the social repercussions of the First World War. The social issue was extensively discussed in pedagogical and cultural contexts in which folkbildning (liberal/popular education) played an important role in the democratization of society. With inspiration ... (Show more)
During the mid-1900s Sweden underwent a process of change in light of industrialization, urbanization, and the social repercussions of the First World War. The social issue was extensively discussed in pedagogical and cultural contexts in which folkbildning (liberal/popular education) played an important role in the democratization of society. With inspiration from the Settlement movement in England, pedagogues such as Natanael Beskow and the author Ebba Pauli took the initiative to start Birkagården's folk high school in 1912 in Stockholm. Birkagården was a social and pedagogical experiment that aimed to overcome class differences and give the working class the opportunity to gain knowledge in social and political issues. The pedagogical program can be looked at as a progressive alternative in relation to the tradition-based educational ideals that were represented during this time in Sweden.
The purpose of the conference paper is to analyze historical documents to gain knowledge about Birkagårdens pedagogical practice during 1912–1918. The following questions will be explored: How was the pedagogical practice organized? Which pedagogical principles distinguished the teaching at the school? How did the pedagogical practice influence the children and the teachers at the school? Although the analysis will include all school stages, the focus will be on education for the younger children.
Birkagården's archive includes extensive source material that reflects Birkagårdens history. For example, historical documents from 1912 and onwards include annual reports, anniversary publications, and commemorative publications compiled by employees and visitors. All Ebba Pauli and Natanael Beskow's publications are preserved in the archive.
Theoretically this progressive educational community will be referred to as minor edutopia. Minor edutopias can be regarded as educational utopian spaces that emerge between past experiences of social and political turbulence and carry the expectation to find a way towards a better future.
By the mid-1900s, the modern school system began to develop, a process marked by the establishment of the elementary school. This paper (re)connects to the historical past in order to gain a deeper understanding of this minor edutopian community, and the pedagogical ideas that were implemented therein, in relation to the development of the school system after the mid-1900s.
Aronson, Torbjörn, ”Teologi och engagemang. Siri Dahlquist och Emilia Fogelklou i folkrörelse-Sverige”, i Siri Dahlquist: psalmförfattare, prästfru och teolog, red. Vivi-Ann Grönqvist, (Skellefteå, 2012).
Barton, H. Arnold, “The Conscience of the Rich: Djursholm, Birkastaden, and Swedish Liberalism”, Scandinavian Studies, Vol. 80, No. 2 (2008), s. 167–184.
”Birkagården: Den första tiden”, i Birkagårdens årsbok 1995, red. Rolf Johansson, (Stockholm, 1995).
Sundgren, Gunnar, Folkbildningsforskning en kunskapsöversikt del II (1998). Annika Pastuhov, Johan Lövgren & Henrik Nordvall, Forskning om nordisk folkhögskola: En översikt 1998–2018 med sammanfattningar, Mimers småskrifter, (2019),
Wikström, Charlott, “Himmelriket på jorden: Den allra vanligaste människan i Emilia Fogelklous edutopi”, i Moderna pedagogiska utopier, red. Anders Burman, Joakim Landahl & Daniel Lövheim, (Huddinge, 2021).
Winter, Jay, Dreams of Peace and Freedom – Utopian moments in the 20th century, (London, 2006). (Show less)