Upplevelser av det moderna : Modernitet, identitetsformering och diskussionsövningar på Wiks folkhögskola 1926–1934

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för idé- och lärdomshistoria

Sammanfattning: The purpose of this thesis is to examine the experience of modernity, and how it related to the process of establishing and determining one’s individual identity. By studying the protocols from discussion seminars on contemporary topics attended by students at Swedish folk high school Wiks folkhögskola in the 1920s and 1930s, the study explores how the students defined themselves in relation to societal changes as well as how they evaluated what they considered to be modern versus traditional. The thesis approaches the subject through the theoretical lens of modernity, defined as the experience of living in an uncertain and changeable present, fundamentally different from what is perceived to be the past. This generates paradoxical feelings of both optimism for the future and nostalgic longing for the past. Alongside the concept of modernity, the thesis utilises theories of individualisation and historical research on the making of the modern self to explore how experiences of modernity related to processes of identity formation. The analysis is structured around three themes, urban and rural lifestyles, leisure as opportunity and threat, and changing gender norms, which were present both in the students’ discussions and in Swedish public discourse during the interwar years. Throughout, the experiences of modernity expressed by the students were much more complex and dynamic than what previous historical research on the modernisation of Sweden has suggested. The thesis therefore argues for a pluralistic and experience-based view of modernity. Furthermore, it questions the relevance of theories of modern individualisation, and to what extent the students’ identities were individual and emancipated from traditional hierarchies. Instead, it considers the role of school authorities, and concludes with the assertation that concepts such as modernity and identity should be approached through empirical studies of historical context and with a critical eye towards power dynamics, authorities, and dominant narratives.

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