Up the hill backwards : On interactional constraints and affordances for equity-constitution in the classrooms of the Swedish comprehensive school

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The aim of the dissertation is to study the relationship between participation in classroom interaction and constraints and affordances for creating equity in classrooms. To facilitate this analysis, two other issues are also addressed: How is participation in classroom interaction organized, and how can one develop ways of recording and analyzing it in order to show its organization? Based on a social constructionist perspective, an analytic approach of interaction analyses of constitutive interaction, with a focus on participation, was established.The dissertation presents developed ways of making and representing audio and video recordings, in particular in terms of enabling the analysis of sequential relationships between co-occurring interactions, but also in terms of facilitating a context-sensitive analysis of different student actions in the same classroom.The analysis of the interaction shows that classroom interaction can be regarded as an interrelationally constituted participation economy. Participation was demonstrated to rely on the turn-taking systematics outlined in previous conversation analytic work. The primary turn-allocation actions were hand-raising and self-selection. These two actions were shown to be substantially different in their interaction import. In relation to the main aim of the dissertation, the analysis demonstrates in several ways that the analyzed classroom interaction is organized in ways that do not ensure equal opportunities for participation. Rather, the turn-allocation organization in the analyzed classroom interaction seems to be geared toward the constitution of differences. Thus, the results of the dissertation show that the organization of classroom interaction found in the analyzed material constrains rather than affords theequity-constitution expected in the curriculum. In regard to the constitution of differences in students' school-careers, the analysis shows that Swedish comprehensive education in certain respects has been going 'up the hill backwards,' attempting to reach equity by means which makes this goal virtually impossible to ever get to.

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