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Anders Rønningen: The Ethnic Move – Cultural diversity in pedagogical texts

An analysis of textbooks on music for Norwegian secondary schools, seen from a multicultural perspective.

Field of study: Music Education


This study deals with issues concerning cultural diversity within Norwegian society and in schools in general, as well as in pedagogical texts more particularly.

Through analysis from a multicultural perspective on textbooks on music for Norwegian secondary schools, a starting point is set for a broader critical discussion on the representation of cultural diversity. This dissertation discusses the increased proportion of diversity represented in textbooks for music. This is coined in a key metaphor named “the ethnic move”. In the national curricula, as well as in the textbooks in question, there are anticipations of the positive consequences of the increased multicultural representation, such as “intercultural understanding across time, place and culture”, and “tolerance and respect for other cultures” to name a few. This dissertation considers how these expectations are operationalized in the educational texts, and puts this in dialogue with other research, multicultural theory and philosophy.

The research dialogue is done through reflexive analyses and by philosophically questioning the possibilities of a fair representation of the ‘cultural other’. This is investigated by performing three different “analytical incisions” in the textbook material. Through these, different aspects of cultural diversity are considered.

The first incision is done to search and critically examine the representation of minority culture in the textbooks. How is “the other” represented and constructed?

The second incision is done to focus on how the majority culture is represented and taken for granted as a norm. Processes of “exnomination” are identified and commented upon.

The third analytical incision looks at how the learning processes are designed in the textbooks, i.e. how do the textbooks facilitate learning? The relationship between the teaching methods and the teaching content is also examined to address whether culture-relevant teaching methods are used.

Critical self-reflection is exercised all through this dissertation, and the foundation for multicultural criticism is questioned, through several deconstructions of commonly used perspectives.

The dissertation

Title (translated from Norwegian): The Ethnic Move - A discussion on cultural diversity in pedagogical texts for Norwegian secondary schools.

The dissertation comprises five peer-reviewed and published articles and an introduction. It is available in NMH's digital archive Brage.

The first article is written in English. The remaining four articles and the introduction are written in Norwegian.

Published: May 24, 2017 — Last updated: Mar 30, 2023