Struggling for integration: universalist and separatist discourses within El Sistema Sweden

Åsa Bergman, Monica Lindgren, Eva Sæther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses on the El Sistema programme, which started up in Sweden in 2010 with the objective to deal with segregation problems typical for Swedish urban areas. The purpose of the article is to examine how promoting integration through music and music education is constructed within El Sistema as a way to help children growing up in multi-ethnic suburbs participate in Swedish society. The empirical material used derives from two different ethnographic research studies conducted in Gothenburg and Malmö. The results show that integration is constructed through two antagonistic discourses competing for hegemony. In the first, the idea of integration is based on a rhetoric of similarities between people playing music together, a rhetoric drawing on the modernist idea of humans as universal and alike. In the second, integration is articulated through a rhetoric of differences related to cultural affiliation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-375
Number of pages12
JournalMusic Education Research
Issue number4
Early online date2016 Oct 8
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pedagogy

Free keywords

  • discourse analysis
  • El Sistema Sweden
  • ethnography
  • integration
  • postcolonial theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Struggling for integration: universalist and separatist discourses within El Sistema Sweden'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this