Disabilities within Sweden’s Art and Music Schools: Discourses of inclusion, policy and practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The aim of this paper is to investigate the discourses that emerge when Sweden’s Art and Music School leaders talk about the inclusion of pupils with disabilities in relation to policy. A starting point is that both earlier studies and policy documents have revealed inclusion problems within Art and Music Schools. The research question is: how are Art and Music School practice, policy and inclusion of pupils with disabilities connected within and through leaders’ discursive practices? The data are based on three focus group conversations with a total of 16 Art and Music School leaders from northern, central and southern Sweden. Discourse analysis as a social constructionist approach is applied since it provides a means to investigate the connection between social change and discourse. Concepts from both discursive psychology and Foucauldian-inspired discourse analysis are applied in order to investigate connections between rhetorical strategies on a micro level and discourses on an institutional level. The concept of multicentric inclusion is introduced and applied in the analysis. In addition, concepts from educational policy theories are applied in order to analyse how policies are conceptualised and enacted in the context of leaders’ discursive practices. Regarding terminology, the results challenge this researcher when the concept of mixed abilities is introduced by the participants. The analysis exposes three discourses: multicentric inclusion discourse, normality discourse and specialisation discourse. There are tensions between the multicentric inclusion discourse and the normality discourse, as well as between the multicentric inclusion discourse and the specialisation discourse. The analysis leads to the following suggestions in order to achieve justice in music education practices and policies: (a) to enforce a specific national inclusion policy, (b) to challenge the normality discourse and (c) to bring together the multicentric inclusion discourse with the specialisation discourse.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pedagogy
  • Music


  • Art and Music Schools, disabilities, discourses, inclusion, policy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-409
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy Futures in Education
Issue number3
Early online date2019 Jun 28
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1
Publication categoryResearch