Folkbildning för delaktighet: En studie om bibliotekets demokratiska uppdrag i en digital samtid

Lisa Olsson Dahlquist

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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This dissertation explores the public library’s democratic and popular educational role in a time when knowledge- and cultural institutions are affected by changes related to digitalisation. The purpose of the study is to examine how library activities, which in various ways are intended to increase individuals’ digital skills, information literacy and participation in society can be understood and problematized from theoretical perspectives on participation, democracy and citizenship.

The study was conducted through ethnographical methods at three different libraries that in various ways work with informal learning initiatives, between 2014-2016. The empirical material consists of field notes from participant observations, transcribed interviews and regulatory documents, such as library- and project plans. Drawing on a theoretical framework influenced by practice theory and institutional theory, the study investigates how the learning activities in focus are carried out in practice as well as how the actors involved give meaning to the work. Furthermore, the relationship between the activities and the construction of the public library’s institutional identity is analysed. The activities in focus are analysed as a contemporary popular educational practice.

The findings show that from a democratic and participatory perspective, the libraries’ work with media and information literacy, as well as by making digital resources and internet available to all, can be understood as a way of broadening and facilitating a communicative space of action, both on an individual and a community level. The libraries thus enable citizenship as a social practice and rights exercise, translated into everyday information-related activities and situations. However, the libraries’ democratic assignment is complex and requires constant dialogue and reflection among the librarians. The findings also show that the libraries’ work to support digital participation is negotiated in the intersection between societal demands of participation and individual needs. The findings of the dissertation sheds light on how the public library’s institutional identity is constructed and negotiated on different levels and through different relations and practices. This means that in a particular time, one identity can appear enhanced or diminished depending on societal change and different needs in the local community.
Original languageSwedish
  • Rivano Eckerdal, Johanna, Supervisor
  • Sundin, Olof, Supervisor
Award date2019 Jun 7
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cultural Studies

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