The knowledge-oriented and relationship-oriented roles of popular education in labour movement parties in Sweden

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Abstract

Political parties are essential for the functioning of parliamentary democracy, yet parties have not received much attention in contemporary research on popular education. The aim of this article is to analyse the contemporary role of party-political education as a form of popular education in two labour movement parties in Sweden. The study is based on semi-structured interviews focusing on the reasoning behind the organisation of education in political parties. The interviews were conducted with ten interviewees who represented ABF (the Swedish workers’ educational association), the Left Party, and the Social Democratic Party. The thematic analysis resulted in four categories of roles ascribed to education in political parties: ideological training, training skilled members and leaders, training for a social infrastructure, and training for internal positioning and distinction. The first two categories correspond to knowledge-oriented roles, while the two last represent relationship-oriented roles. Findings show that party-political popular education still plays a significant role in contemporary Sweden. The shrinking member base of political parties creates challenges when new members and prospective representatives cannot be expected to have as extensive popular movement experience as previous representatives. In this situation, study activities are, to some extent, attributed more significance than previously.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374
Number of pages387
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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