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What is Participation? Pedagogues’ Interpretative Repertoires and Ideological Dilemmas Regarding Children’s Participation in Swedish Leisure-time Centres

Anna Liisa Närvänen, Helene Elvstrand

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The aim of the article is to explore how pedagogues in Swedish leisure-time centres interpret and make sense of what may be meant by children’s participation. We also focus on ambivalences and competing interpretations of participation and how pedagogues argue for or against divergent interpretations. The material consists of 18 digitally recorded reflection meetings in 6 leisure-time centres. The analyses reveal three interpretative patterns, or in other words, interpretative repertoires of participation, these being 1) formal democracy, 2) making individual choices and 3) responsibility. Ambivalences and competing interpretations concern, in the first place, the interpretation of participation as individual choice versus adult governance and compulsory activities. The arguments used refer to cultural values such as the value of countryside experiences, children’s developmental needs, professional commitment and children’s best interests. The severity of the clashing ideas is obvious as no working consensus is achieved.

Keywords: leisure-time centres, children’s participation, interpretative repertoires, ideological dilemmas, inhabited institutions


Bibliography: Närvänen, Anna Liisa/Elvstrand, Helene: What ist Participation?, IJREE, Vol. 3, Issue 2-2015, pp. 61-78.