NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, Åbo Akademi University

Values and religion in transition – a case study of a Swedish multicultural public school

Per Pettersson, Karlstad University

Religious, ethnic and cultural diversity pose challenges to legal, educational and political systems in European countries. Religion is sometimes used as a factor in social mobilization, solidarity or discrimination and part of processes leading to tolerance or intolerance and xenophobia. The paper presents results from a Swedish case study in Gävle which is part of a major European research project, Welfare and Values in Europe – WaVE, focusing on values related to religion, minorities and gender. In Gävle two local welfare institutions were especially focused; a family centre run by the local authority in cooperation with the Church of Sweden and a public school with a high degree of immigrant pupils. The collected data consists of official documents, information at internet, 43 individual interviews and some observation. Results from the school are especially focused in the paper, although in the framework of the general mapping of Gävle. Analysis show that conflicts of values in between minority groups and the majority culture appear in a number of fields. But most of these value conflicts and tensions are handled by negotiations and compromises in a way which can provide good examples for other localities and local contexts.