Music Education and Democratisation: Policy processes and discourses of inclusion of all children in Sweden's Art and Music Schools

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


The aim of this thesis is to critically investigate the discourses of Sweden’s Art and Music Schools (SAMS, kulturskolor in Swedish) connected to policy processes for the democratisation of music education for all children and adolescents. A further aim is to contribute to knowledge on the development and enactment of policy processes for the democratisation of music education. The empirical material is based on focus group conversations with sixteen SAMS leaders and policy documents related to SAMS. The overall research questions are as follows: (1) What discourses of inclusion and exclusion constitute and are constituted by leadership positioning in relation to policy processes for the democratisation of music education? (2) How is the enactment of policies constituted within and through SAMS leaders’ discursive practices? (3) How is the inclusion of all children constituted within and through SAMS leaders’ discursive practices and within and through policy documents with relevance for SAMS?

SAMS were originally developed as a loosely coupled system of locally shaped schools for learning musical instruments. Gradually, they have embraced other subjects like dance, drama and the visual arts, along with different forms of collaboration with the compulsory school system. The inclusion of all children and the training of professional musicians have been part of the rationale for the development of the system. However, the inclusive aim of SAMS has been problematised in policy and research, exposing an unfulfilled democratic potential.

The theoretical framework of the thesis constitutes of discourse theories – Foucauldian discourse analysis and discursive psychology – and policy theories. Among the concepts applied are discourse, regime of truth, policy enactment and policy cycle.

The results show that several discourses constituted by and constituting subjectivity are at play: multicentric inclusion discourse, normalisation discourse, specialisation discourse, market discourse, economic discourse and collaboration discourse. The results indicate that there is a need to raise awareness of discourses involved in SAMS activities. Finally, the study offers possible pathways towards the democratisation of music education through engagement in policy processes.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pedagogy
  • Music


  • Art and music schools, Democracy, Kulturskola, Inclusion, Leadership, Music education, Discourses, Policies
Translated title of the contributionMusikpedagogik och demokratisering: Policyprocesser och diskurser av inkludering av alla barn i Sveriges kulturskolor
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2021 Apr 23
Place of PublicationMalmö
  • Malmö: Lund University, Malmö Academy of Music
Print ISBNs978-91-88409-27-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar 25
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2021-04-23 Time: 13:00 Place: NB! This dissertation defense will be conducted online only. External reviewer(s) Name: Alexandra Kertz-Welzel Title: Professor Affiliation: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München ---

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Related research output

Anders Rønningen, Cecilia Jeppsson, Adriana Di Lorenzo Tillborg, Hanna Backer Johnsen & Finn Holst, 2019 Apr 25, Norsk kulturskoleråd (Norge) och Statens kulturråd (Sverige).

Research output: Book/ReportReport

Eva Sæther & Adriana Di Lorenzo Tillborg, 2019 Apr, Advancing music education in Northern Europe. Routledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

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