Maria Olson

Maria Olson


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Education
Telephone 08-16 45 81
Visiting address Svante Arrhenius väg 20 A, plan 3,4,5
Room P 340
Postal address Institutionen för de humanistiska och samhällsvetenskapliga ämnenas didaktik 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • Chapter Demokrati
    2020. Magnus Dahlstedt, Maria Olson. Perspektiv på skolans problem, 419-431
  • 2020. Sara Irisdotter Aldenmyr, Maria Olson. Perspektiv på skolans problem, 85-96
  • 2020. Sara Irisdotter Aldenmyr, Maria Olson. Youth on the Move, 167-184
  • 2020. Maria Olson. Utbildning och Demokrati 29 (2), 29-61

    From the citizenship education potential of schools to that of social studies as a subject – a way forward? What is good citizen-ship, and how can schools help to promote and shape it? This text seeks to define a possible path for citizenship-oriented social studies education that is able to respond to this question in a satisfactory way. To that end, I pursue two different lines of inquiry. On the one hand, I proceed from an idea of citizenship drawn from established political theory with a focus on citizenship, specifically the work of Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne (2004). On the other, I undertake a far from complete, but nevertheless pertinent, review of research into the subject didactics of social studies – the what, how and why of teaching and learning the subject – in the light of the question of what invitations to citizenship can be traced in that research. Based on these two lines of inquiry, four subject-specific dimensions are distinguished that seem to be necessary points of reference for social studies as a school subject if the aim is to promote citizenship education: a social, a knowledge-related, a personal and an explicitly normative dimension.

  • 2020. Johan Sandahl, Maria Olson. Nordic Conference in Social Studies Didactics 2020, 30.3–1.4.2020 in Vaasa, 46-46

    Det demokratiska samhället är beroende av kunniga, engagerade och deltagande medborgare och skolan har därför ett särskilt ansvar att bidra till att nya generationer utbildas för ett liv i demokratin. Samhällskunskap ses som ett av de primära ämnena med ansvar för att bidra till att eleverna får möjlighet att utveckla elevers kunskaper, förmågor och attityder för att delta och agera som aktiva och ansvariga medborgare under och efter sin skoltid i vad som kan beskrivas som medborgarbildning (Campbell, 2012; Sandahl, 2015; Olson, 2012). En grundläggande fråga är vilka kunskaper, förmågor och förhållningssätt som är av särskild vikt i detta sammanhang – en fråga som inte sällan besvaras med att det är disciplinära kunskaper som är helt avgörande för en ämnesundervisning att åstadkomma en sådan ‘effekt’ (Blanck & Lödén, 2017). I detta paper argumenterar författarna för att dessa kunskaper är viktiga och nödvändiga (jfr. Sandahl, 2013; 2015; 2018), men inte tillräckliga. Utifrån Westheimer & Kahnes (2006; jfr Biesta, 2008) idealtyper diskuteras vilka olika möjliga positioner som samhällskunskapsundervisningen kan inta för att bidra till elevernas medborgarbildning.

  • 2019. Kristiina Brunila, Maria Olson.

    The amount of public debate and media attention concerning mental health problems, stress and anxiety among young people in education in Western Europe has reached record levels while the therapeutic ethos has prompted considerable changes in educational and cross-sectoral policies.  Psycho-emotional wellbeing of young people has become a central concern, youth support systems have increased, and educational policies have aligned with therapeutic ethos. This trend is marked out by a more general shift of policy agendas where the former stress on welfare regimes is replaced for a stress on individual and psycho-emotional wellbeing and therapeutic regimes. Accordingly, psychologically and therapeutically oriented language has become prevalent in cross-sectoral policies as well as in social and cultural practices in Europe (e.g. Madsen, 2018; Wright, 2011; Ecclestone & Brunila, 2015; Brunila, 2017; Brunila, forthcoming; Gillies et al 2017; Irisdotter Aldenmyr & Olson, 2016; Fejes, 2008).

    Earlier research has linked the neoliberalization of the welfare state to the rise of therapeutic ethos (e.g. Brunila & Ylöstalo, forthcoming; Wright, 2011; Isin, 2004). We argue that therapeutic ethos works in accordance to neoliberalization because they aim at producing resilient citizens who provide for their own needs and develop their competitiveness (see also, Brunila & al., forthcoming; Kananen, 2012, Kantola, 2003). As a result of this shift, political claims are today being made on the basis of inherent mental and psycho-emotional vulnerabilities while long established education political demands for recognition among different individuals and groups have resulted in therapeutic implementations (Ecclestone & Hayes, 2005; Brunila & Rossi, 2016). The rise of the so-called psy-discourses (e.g. psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis) in education can be seen as closely allied with this shift (Rose, 1998; Petersen & Millei, 2016). What is new is not the policy phenomenon as such, but rather the very mainstreaming of mental-health categories in education policy and in other areas, such as public health and social workers’ (and the police’s) policy and practical programmes. Followed by an altered way in which the very meaning and public/common understanding of mental health has changed in these policy agendas.

    Heavy stress on psychology as an ‘explicatory’ discipline to young people’s (ill)health and wellbeing has hitherto, it seems, become more common than before (Brunila & al., forthcoming; Gillies 2016; Honkasilta, 2017). Mental health categories have been inflated to embrace a much wider span of the population. This tendency is in line with the international trend, where the diagnostic categories seem to have tripled in the world, and that the threshold of what counts as a disorder kept falling until it includes embarrassment at meeting people (social phobia), according to different editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, XX).

    With McLaughlin (2012) this trend might be depicted as an altered conception of ‘respect’. A tendency that has its roots in the current state of the art, where the welfare regimes of Western Europe seem to have substituted psychic goods for material wellbeing. This state of the art can be seen as a part of a general decline of social struggles over wages and incomes, connected with the state’s attempts to reconnect with a more individuated citizenry.

    In this paper, the different ways in which this intricate travelling policy (Alexiadou, 2005) – from welfare to wellbeing - is being handled at education policy level in three different national contexts in Western Europe; Finland, Sweden and UK. The aim is, more specifically, to present an analysis at policy level of how the governments in these contexts position the issue of wellbeing, and its related packages of health care stemming from other policy fields, within the(ir) politics of education addressing young people enrolled in education.


    For this presentation, we brought our previously collected data from cross-sectoral and educational policies together to build a theory of the travelling policy ‘from welfare to wellbeing’ in the therapeutic ethos. This enabled us to jointly analyse documents related to educational and cross-sectoral policies in order to define their similarities and differences. We adapted a discursive approach to identify educational policies as discursive practices, emphasizing an analysis of the power relations inherent in them (Bacchi & Bonham, 2014).

    Expected Outcomes

    This presentation deals with the policy shift from welfare to wellbeing, neoliberalization of the welfare state and the rise of the therapeutic ethos. We claim that neoliberal welfare state reform is intensified by therapeutic ethos, as they aim at producing resilient (youth) citizens who provide for their own wellbeing while constantly developing their competitiveness. By treating social problems as questions of individual deficiencies and improvement via the therapeutic ethos, the state is constantly divesting its responsibilities towards its citizens. Analysing recent policy reforms in education in Finland, Sweden and UK, the presentation aims to show how neoliberal welfare state reform is not only intensified by the therapeutic ethos, but that the state also acts as a powerful instrument of this reform.

  • 2019. Kathrin Olsen (et al.). International Journal of Inclusive Education 23 (6), 624-638

    This study identify and reflect on barriers to inclusion that childrenwith autism can meet in kindergarten. We use a single case studywith participant- and video observation to map inclusion for asingle 5-year-old boy with autism, in a mainstream kindergarten inNorway. Analysis identified three modes of inclusion; distancekeeping,maintaining proximity and interacting. The mappingprocedure demonstrated that barriers to inclusion continue tooperate. The extent of the child’s participation seemed to relateto what he was doing and who he was with; overall, limitedsocial inclusion amongst peers being achieved. Results indicatedthat predictable frameworks and teacher support increasedparticipation. We discuss how participation for children withautism can be promoted. Our study points toward the need toextend current adaptations and support to children with autismwithin the educational settings, to enable a more inclusive practice.

  • 2019. Maria Olson. Nofa7 Abstracts, 163-163
  • 2019. Magnus Dahlstedt, Maria Olson.

    Utbildning är inte bara en fråga om kunskaper och färdigheter, utan också om att forma morgondagens medborgare. Vilken roll har utbildning i samhällsbygget och vilken roll bör den ha? Vad är det för slags medborgare som ska fostras och för vilket samhälle?

    Den här boken handlar om utbildning som medborgarfostran och vilken sorts samhälle denna skapar. Med utgångspunkt i efterkrigstidens Sverige visar författarna hur medborgarfostran har tagit form och hur den har förändrats över tid. Boken gör nedslag vid fyra olika tidpunkter: 1940-talet, 1960-talet, 1990-talet och tidigt 2000-tal. Vid var och en av dessa tidpunkter visar författarna vilken slags medborgare utbildningen fostrar till, hur det går till och vilket samhälle individen fostras för.

    Utbildning, demokrati, medborgarskap bidrar inte bara med kunskaper om det förflutna utan även till en ökad förståelse av samtiden och de vägval som pedagoger står inför. Den nya upplagan är uppdaterad utifrån aktuella samhällsförändringar och debatter om migration, växande populism, kunskapsmätningar och marknadsstyrning.

  • 2018. Andreas Fejes (et al.).

    Adult Education and the Formation of Citizens turns attention towards normative claims about who adults should become through education, and what capacities and skills adults need to develop to become included in society as ‘full’ citizens. Through these debates, adults are construed as not yet citizens, despite already being citizens in a formal sense; this book problematises such regimes of truth and their related notions of the possibilities and impossibilities of adult education and citizenship.

    Drawing on empirical examples from the two main adult education institutions in Sweden, folk high schools and municipal adult education, it argues that, through current regimes of truth, these institutions become spaces for the re-shaping of the "abnormal" citizen. The book suggests that only certain futures of citizenship and its educational provision are made possible, while other futures are ignored or even made impossible to imagine. Offering a unique focus on critically problematising the role of adult education in relation to the fostering and shaping of citizens, the book addresses the important contemporary challenges of the role of adult education in a time of migration.

    Adult Education and the Formation of Citizens will be of great interest to academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of adult education, lifelong learning and education.

  • 2018. Andreas Fejes (et al.). Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 62 (3), 461-473

    In this article we have analysed the ways a discourse on individualisation is taking shape within adult education in Sweden, how it operates, and what effects it has in terms of shaping student subjectivity. Drawing on a post-structural theorisation we analyse interviews with teachers and students in municipal adult education (MAE) and folk high schools (FHS). The analysis illustrates how both institutions contribute to the shaping of individualised subjectivities, although differently. At the end, a general question is raised about what happens with the democratic function of adult education in general, when a discourse on individualisation operates in the ways described, and more specifically, asks what is happening to FHS as an educational practice, that upholds its self-image as a last bastion of a collective notion of learning and subjectivity, and nurturing an educational practice of learning democracy?

  • Article Introduktion
    2018. Åsa Wedin (et al.). Utbildning och Lärande / Education and Learning 12 (1), 5-6

    I och med detta temanummer av tidskriften Utbildning & Lärande tar Högskolan Dalarna över ansvaret för tidskriften efter Högskolan i Skövde. Detta introducerande temanummer inriktas mot praktiknära forskning, vilket står i samklang med lärosätets ambitioner inom såväl grundutbildning som på forskningsnivå, där undervisning, lärande, fostran och omsorg är tongivande kunskaps-objekt. Ämnet pedagogiskt arbete, med sin snart två decennier långa existens som skolpraktikorienterat grund- och forskningsämne, vittnar inte bara om en tydlig ambition att bidra med kunskap om vad som händer och sker i förskolans och skolans institutionella praktiker. Det rymmer även ambitionen att finna produktiva vägar att utveckla vad det metodiskt innebär att bedriva forskning i skolans kontext. Bidragen i detta temanummer tar sig an såväl frågor kring vilka kunskapsbidrag som praktiknära forskning bör prioritera, som frågor kring hur denna forskning kan bedrivas på ett fruktbart sätt.

  • 2018. Andreas Fejes (et al.).

    Utbildning för vuxna lyfts ofta fram som en lösning på en rad aktuella samhällsutmaningar. Allt från miljöfrågor till den mer övergripande målsättningen att skapa ekonomisk tillväxt. Men vuxenutbildningen har också ett tydligt demokratiskt och medborgerligt uppdrag och i denna bok utforskas detta medborgerliga uppdrag utifrån dess grundläggande antaganden, verkningssätt och konsekvenser. Det är en berättelse som å ena sidan handlar om inkludering, erkännande, framtidstro och realiserandet av drömmar, å andra sidan om normalisering, exkludering och villkorad gemenskap. Med andra ord, att bli en god samhällsmedborgare handlar inte enbart om att tillägna sig relevant kunskap. Det är lika mycket en process av att forma en person – dennes självuppfattning och -uttryck – vilket öppnar upp för en diskussion om gränserna för vuxenutbildningens uppdrag.

    Boken vänder sig till studenter inom lärarutbildningarna, yrkes- verksamma lärare, skolledare, studievägledare, folkbildare och politiker som intresserar sig för frågor om vuxenutbildningens och folkbildningens roll i att fostra framtida medborgare.

  • 2018. Trond Solhaug (et al.).
  • 2018. Maria Olson.
  • 2017. Maria Olson. Nordidactica (2), 1-7

    I detta temanummer riktar vi intresse mot So-ämnenas undervisning i skolan. Vi tar vår utgångspunkt i vad de flesta lärare vet, men kanske inte alltid finner tid, utrymme eller någon lämplig plattform att uttrycka. Nämligen att all undervisning, och i förlängningen all utbildning – av nödvändighet – är omhuldad av risk (Biesta 2013), av det som är oväntat. Vår ambition är inte i första hand att lyfta fram detta oväntade som en omständighet eller nödvändighet i allmän mening i utbildningssammanhang. Ambitionen är snarare att utifrån denna nödvändighet resa frågor till den dagliga undervisningen i de samhällsorienterade ämnena religionskunskap, samhällskunskap och historia, alternativt i so-undervisning generellt. Utifrån skilda empiriska, i högre eller lägre grad teoretiskt färgade ansatser, prövar vi att resa frågor som på olika sätt knyter an till vårt överordnade syfte i temanumret, vilket är att undersöka om, och i så fall vilka särskilda villkor eller bevekelsegrunder som kan tänkas prägla just de samhällsorienterade ämnenas undervisning, sett i ljuset av det oväntade som en potential, som möjlighet.

  • 2017. Maria Olson. NoFa6, 43-44
  • 2016. Fredrik Sandberg (et al.). Adult Education Quarterly 66 (2), 103-119

    We argue that municipal adult education (MAE) can be seen as a place for displaced and abnormal citizens to gain temporary stability, enabling their shaping into desirable subjects. Drawing on a poststructural discursive analysis, we analyse policy texts and interviews with teachers and students. Our analysis illustrates how two distinct student subjectivities are shaped: the rootless, unmotivated and irresponsible student and the responsible, motivated and goal-oriented one. The difference is that the latter of these subjectivities is positioned as desirable. MAE provides a temporary place in time, a heterotopia of deviation, allowing students to escape precarious employment. The heterotopia places the students in a positive utopian dream of the future. A utopia is not a real place, and what is to become of the students after finishing MAE is not determined; the students themselves should shape it. If they fail, in line with a neoliberal governmentality, it is their own fault. 

  • 2016. Magnus Dahlstedt, Maria Olson. European Journal of Futures Research 4 (1)

    This article deals with the notion of belonging in today’s multi-ethnic Sweden and hints at perpectives of future European identity-building. On the basis of Frantz Fanon’s understanding of colonialism and the colonized mentality as theoretical, the article deals with the situation of Roma in Sweden – and Europe. With the story of a young Roma woman that has migrated to Sweden from Hungary as point of departure, the article addresses the situation for Romani people, but also for other migrants in Europe, with particular focus on who are allowed to belong to the community of Swedish and European citizens, and who are not.

  • 2016. Anna Henriksson Persson, Maria Olson. SO-undervisning på mellanstadiet, 139-158
  • Chapter Avslutning
    2016. Maria Olson, Sara Irisdotter Aldenmyr. SO-undervisning på mellanstadiet, 159-161
  • 2016. Maria Olson.
  • 2016. Andreas Fejes (et al.).
Show all publications by Maria Olson at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 28, 2021

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