Snacking on Knowledge and Feel Good

Challenging discourses on arts in education




arts in education, music education, education, discourse analysis, late modernity, social constructionism


The aim of this article is to re-think the results of four larger studies conducted by the authors during the last decade, all with a discourse analytical approach. The studies are empirical and concern the Swedish field of arts in education and deal with a comprehensive material consisting of interviews, observations and field notes. In the results of these studies three prominent discourses emerges. A Curriculum discourse, where content knowledge is connected to traditions, norms and values of educational institutions, a Feel-good discourse that deals with content knowledge where social and personal aspects are essential, and a Snacking on knowledge discourse where content knowledge is portrayed as something students are able to pick and choose according to their own preference. Ideas of late modern society and arts in education are then used as a basis to carry out a critical discussion about the emerging discourses. Also different teacher and student positions are problematized.

Author Biographies

Kristina Holmberg, Halmstad University

Kristina Holmberg is a Senior Lecturer in Educational Science at Halmstad University, Sweden. She graduated in 2010 with a thesis about music and arts education in late modernity. In recent years her research has focused different discourse analytical approaches related to arts and music, as well as mathematics and civics education. Also, her research is directed towards issues related to neoliberal ideas and posthuman theories in education.

Marie-Helene Zimmerman Nilsson, Halmstad University

Marie-Helene Zimmerman Nilsson is a Senior Lecturer in Educational Science at Halmstad University, Sweden. She graduated at Gothenburg University in 2009 with a thesis about music teachers´ choice of subject matter content. Her research focuses on discourse analysis related to higher music education and teacher education, as well as on post-humanist theory related to early childhood education. Also, she focuses on student teachers´ learning in teacher education.

Monica Lindgren, University of Gothenburg - Academy of Music & Drama

Monica Lindgren is Professor in Music Education at the Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg. She received her PhD in Music Education from University of Gothenburg in spring 2006. Her research interest is directed towards aesthetic/artistic learning in relation to issues of power, identity and inclusion in various types of teaching contexts. Professor Lindgren has published articles in international research journals, such as British Journal of Music Education, Discourse, Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, International Journal of Community Music and Nordic Research in Music Education.

Claes Ericsson, Halmstad University

Claes Ericsson is professor in Educational Science at Halmstad University and has also been working as visiting professor in Music Education at The Academy of Music and Drama Gothenburg University. His research focus is primarily school and teacher education. Theoretically and methodologically he positions himself within social constructionism, poststructuralism and discourse analysis. He has conducted several large research projects and has also been working with assessment of the Swedish comprehensive school.