Speaking of space : An ethnographic study of language policy, spatiality and power in bilingual educational settings

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http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-6508-4
Title: Speaking of space : An ethnographic study of language policy, spatiality and power in bilingual educational settings
Author: From, Tuuli
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences
Doctoral Programme in School, Education, Society and Culture
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020-10-23
Belongs to series: Helsinki Studies in Education - URN:ISSN:2489-2297
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-6508-4
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/319808
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based)
Abstract: This study considers questions related to language policy, space and power in the context of co-located Finnish- and Swedish-speaking schools in Finland and a bilingual Sweden Finnish school in Sweden. Finland is an officially bilingual country with Finnish and Swedish as national languages, and basic education is organised separately for both language groups. In consequence, the Swedish-speaking schools in Finland are monolingual and there are no bilingual schools providing education in both Finnish and Swedish. The separation of the national languages in the educational system of Finland has been pointed out in societal and scientific debate as protecting the vitality of Swedish in Finland. At the same time, the lack of bilingual schools has been increasingly presented as problematic with regard to promoting linguistic diversity and language learning. However, along with the Finnish municipalities’ recent tendency to co-locate educational institutions in shared facilities, co-locations of monolingual Finnish- and Swedish-speaking schools have become more common. In co-located school campuses, Finnish- and Swedish-speaking schools share the school facilities but function as separate administrative units and engage in mutual activities if they wish. In Sweden, Finnish has been officially recognised as a national minority language since 2000. The present language and education legislation provides the pupils with a Finnish background the right to use and develop their language and cultural identity in education. However, the problems related to the realisation of bilingual education for the Sweden Finns have been extensively pointed out. Bilingual education in Finnish and Swedish is organised for the most part outside the public school system in independent Sweden Finnish schools, whose availability in Sweden is increasingly restricted. The study is informed by critical and post-structuralist notions on the study of language and language policies, as well as theorisations of space and spatiality taking shape particularly in the fields of critical and cultural geography. The spatiality of language policies is framed and approached through the following questions: what kinds of meanings is space given in educational language policy discourses? How do national language policies participate in the construction of spatial orders in institutional education? What kinds of subject positions are available to the actors in these spatial orders and how are these positions negotiated in the everyday lives of educational institutions? In this dissertation, language policies are conceptualised as multi-sited; as ideologies, language planning and language practices that operate in multiple dimensions of space and time. A specific interest is the negotiation of language policies in daily school life and the spatial orders they contribute to. Therefore, the overall methodological framework of this dissertation is ethnographic. The ethnographic data was generated at various sites: co-located primary and high school campuses in Finland and a bilingual Sweden Finnish school in Sweden. The data consists of participant observations, video recordings, interviews with school staff and photo-elicitation interviews with pupils. Moreover, the first article, utilises data consisting of texts published in Finnish newspapers as well as staff interviews from other co-located school campuses in Finland. The analysis of the ethnographic data is contextualised in contemporary education and language policies in Finland and Sweden. This dissertation consists of three articles and a summary part. The first article analyses the discourses and practices related to the spatial separation of the national languages in the educational system of Finland by introducing the concept of cultural space. The second article examines the recognition of linguistic value and the spatiality of linguistic resources in language policy discourse and the everyday practices of co-located and bilingual schools. The third article scrutinises the interplay between spatial ideologies and spatial practices in the context of language and education by analysing how the premise of language separation is conceptualised, managed and negotiated in co-located schools in Finland and the bilingual school in Sweden. The findings indicate that spatial ideologies were present in many ways in how language policies were discussed and practiced in the schools studied. Space was understood as symbolic, material, political and strategic. Particularly in the context of minority language education, space was ascribed meanings that reflected the felt linguistic power relations and their management. The premise of language management was a rather conventional understanding of languages as countable and bounded entities, whose hierarchies were defined along with national language policies. The physical school space and its possession was typically presented by the school staff as a precondition for the protection of a minority language. Moreover, language and education policies were seen as crucial in providing spatial autonomy for minority language speakers. However, like the language agendas, the premises and goals of spatial language management varied among the co-located schools and the bilingual school. In Finland, the reconstruction of a Swedish-speaking school space was understood as a spatial ideology established in the institutions, whereas in Sweden the Finnish-speaking spaces were considered to be repeatedly reconstructed by the educators through the daily spatial practices. In the Swedish-speaking school in Finland, the spatial management was framed by the presence of the Finnish-speaking school as a potential threat, which also seemed to strengthen the underlying norm of monolingualism and the ideal of a monolingual space. However, this study also shows that co-located campuses can be considered as sites in which the premise of linguistic and spatial separation of the national languages in education is challenged and re-negotiated. In the co-located campuses of this study, pupils and students displayed awareness of the language boundaries constructed through the separation of physical space and educational practices. The separation seemed to cause alienation between the pupils and students in these schools but resistance to the linguistic and cultural categories was also articulated and practised. In the Sweden Finnish school in Sweden, the shortcomings in language and minority policies were pointed out by the educators as threatening the position of Finnish in the Swedish educational system. The policies were understood as having failed to provide physical and symbolic spaces for Finnish in Swedish society, of which the unpredictable situation of bilingual schools being seen as a consequence. The ethnographic observations show that in addition to the shortcomings in minority and language policies, the present marketisation of education policies had tangible implications for the everyday life of the Sweden Finnish school. The representations related to Finnish in Sweden seem to be changing but were still classed and devaluing in places, which, according to the ethnographic data, seemed to hinder the recognition of Finnish as a right and a resource. This, in turn, might complicate the successful operation of Sweden Finnish independent schools. In the co-located schools in Finland, by contrast, the established societal position and cultural value related to Swedish in Finland was reflected in how the spatial autonomy of Swedish-speaking schools was treated. This study concludes that observing language policies through their spatial dimension in language policy discourses as well as in educational practice enables a more profound understanding of their connection to equality and difference-making in education. ________________________________________ Keywords: language policy, spatiality, language minorities, bilingual school, co-located school, ethnographyVäitöskirjassa tarkastellaan kielipolitiikkaan, tilaan ja valtaan liittyviä kysymyksiä kaksikielisissä kouluympäristöissä Suomessa ja Ruotsissa. Koulu on instituutio, jossa kielipolitiikan lähtökohtia ovat perinteisesti olleet yksikielisyys ja kielten erottelu. Suomi on virallisesti kaksikielinen maa, jonka kansalliskielet suomi ja ruotsi on erotettu toisistaan perusopetuksessa. Sen seurauksena Suomen ruotsinkieliset koulut ovat yksikielisiä eikä maassa ole kaksikielistä opetusta suomeksi ja ruotsiksi tarjoavia peruskouluja. Yksikielinen koulutila on julkisessa keskustelussa esitetty ruotsin kielen elinvoimaisuutta tukevana tekijänä. Ruotsissa suomen kieli on kansallinen vähemmistökieli, jonka oikeudet tunnustetaan kieli- ja koulutuslainsäädännössä. Tästä huolimatta esimerkiksi kaksikielisen opetuksen saatavuusongelmat ovat yleisesti tiedossa. Tutkimus selvittää etnografisin menetelmin, millaisia merkityksiä tilalle annetaan kielipoliittisissa diskursseissa ja miten tilallisia järjestyksiä tuotetaan kaksikielisissä kouluympäristöissä. Lisäksi tarkastellaan lasten ja aikuisten toimintamahdollisuuksia näissä tilallisissa järjestyksissä. Etnografinen aineisto on tuotettu useassa paikassa: kahdella suomalaisella kieliparikampuksella, jossa suomen- ja ruotsinkieliset alakoulut ja vastaavasti lukiot jakavat koulutilat sekä kaksikielisessä ruotsinsuomalaisessa koulussa Ruotsissa. Tutkimus esittää, että tilaa koskevat uskomukset ja periaatteet, tilalliset ideologiat, olivat monella tapaa läsnä koulujen kielipolitiikassa. Kielipoliittista tilaa tuotettiin puheessa ja käytännöissä ja sille annettiin merkityksiä vertauskuvallisena, materiaalisena, poliittisena sekä strategisena. Opettajien puheissa fyysinen koulutila yhdistettiin ajalliseen jatkuvuuteen ja vähemmistökielen suojelemiseen. Kielipolitiikan lähtökohtana oli tavanomainen ymmärrys kielistä rajattuina entiteetteinä, joiden suhteet määritellään kansallisessa kielipolitiikassa. Kielipolitiikan tilalliset seuraukset olivat kieliparikouluissa ja kaksikielisessä koulussa keskenään erilaiset. Suomessa keskustelua ruotsinkielisestä koulusta jäsensi tilallinen ideologia, joka kiinnittyi yksikieliseen instituutioon ja koulun fyysiseen erillisyyteen. Kieliparikouluissa suomenkielisen koulun läheisyys esitettiin mahdollisena riskitekijänä, mikä vaikutti myös vahvistavan yksikielisyysnormia ja tarvetta kielten erotteluun. Toisaalta kieliparikouluissa myös haastettiin ja neuvoteltiin uudelleen eriyttävää kielipolitiikkaa. Oppilaat ja opiskelijat osoittivat tietoisuutta fyysisen tilan ja koulunkäynnin eriyttämisen kautta rakentuneista kielirajoista. Erillisyys vaikutti etäännyttävän kieliparikoulujen lapsia ja aikuisia toisistaan mutta toisaalta herätteli myös kyseenalaistamaan kielellisiä ja kulttuurisia stereotypioita. Ruotsinsuomalaisessa koulussa henkilökunta toi esiin monia suomen kielen asemaan liittyviä epäkohtia ruotsalaisessa koulujärjestelmässä ja yhteiskunnassa laajemmin. Suomenkielistä tilaa pyrittiin ylläpitämään arjessa toistuvien tilallisten käytäntöjen avulla. Suomalaisuuden representaatiot ovat muuttumassa Ruotsissa myönteisemmiksi mutta suomen kieltä ei vieläkään itsestään selvästi tunnistettu oikeudeksi tai resurssiksi kouluarjessa ja monissa vuorovaikutustilanteissa kaksikielisen koulun hallitseva normi oli ruotsinkielisyys. Etnografiset havainnot osoittavat lisäksi, että ruotsalaisen koulutusjärjestelmän markkinoistuminen näkyi ruotsinsuomalaisen koulun arjessa. Tutkimus väittää, että ruotsinsuomalaisten vapaakoulujen toimintaedellytykset näillä markkinoilla ovat edellä mainittujen ongelmien vuoksi kaventuneet. Tutkimuksen keskeinen johtopäätös on, että kielipolitiikan tilallinen analyysi mahdollistaa syvällisemmän ymmärryksen sen kytköksestä koulutukselliseen tasa-arvoon ja erontekoihin koulujen arjessa.
Subject: kasvatustiede
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