A critical discourse analysis of the construction of knowledge of gender in sociology at upper-secondary school

Detta är en Uppsats för yrkesexamina på avancerad nivå från Malmö universitet/Fakulteten för lärande och samhälle (LS)

Sammanfattning: This thesis presents a critical discourse analysis of how the sociology of gender is constructed in the sociology syllabus and two textbooks aimed for use at upper secondary school level. I use Bernstein’s theory of framing and classification to understand how power over knowledge is distributed through this construction. I take as my starting point that sociology, as framed in the syllabus, allocates a lot of power over knowledge to individual teachers. I outline the short history of sociology as a Swedish school subject and problematise this based on the fact that the majority of sociology teachers have limited education in sociology. I argue further that sociology as a discipline is characterised by an ambiguous canon and lack of pedagogic traditions. This increases the demands on sociology teachers. Based on previous research, I identify the sociology of gender as a potentially contentious area that warrants investigation.  Critical Discourse Analysis  (herein - CDA) takes as its starting point that discourses are a vehicle of ideology, and that ideology is capable of oppression or marginalization. Through critical discourse analysis it can be revealed that the construction of knowledge of gender marginalises queer voices and sociological perspectives on gender from outside the global North whilst simultaenously segregating feminist theory from mainstream sociology. “Mainstream sociology” in this context can be taken to include theories and perspectives which are used to understand society and social processes as a whole, such as the class, crime and deviance, the state and media. The construction of gender also selectively draws upon dominant socio-cultural discourses on gender, such as gender equality politics and sociological research. Violence against women, and masculinity are two topics identified as important in gender equality politics, for example, but are not part of the construction of the knowledge on gender. This is in itself not surprising, the analysed course is only 100 points in total and cannot possibly cover everything, but it does raise questions about which perspectives are included and which are excluded.   Importantly, the purpose of this thesis is not to discredit the knowledge of gender as constructed by the syllabus and textbooks, and to supplant it with other perspectives. This would be unconscionably arrogant and simply replacing one set of ideologies with other ideologies. This would be  counterproductive to the aims of CDA. The purpose is rather to reveal the ideologies behind the discourse and enable an informed discussion from multiple perspectives. I conclude this thesis by arguing for the benefits of introducing norm critical pedagogy into sociology teaching as a means of countering bias in knowledge creation and selection, and as a pedagogical tool in a  field where no identifiable pedagogic approach exists as yet.                                

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