Walls, seats and the gymnasium: A social-material ethnography on gendered school space in an Icelandic compulsory school

Bergljót Þrastardóttir*, Ingólfur Ásgeir Jóhannesson, Sirpa Lappalainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article focuses on how students make use of different spaces in one compulsory school in Iceland and how gender is produced through activities in these spaces. Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted for three months in 2016 among 8th and 9th graders at one public school in Iceland. Our analysis is based on poststructural and material theorisation in a country with one of the most progressive curricula in the world. It indicates that the school environment favours dividing practices between boys and girls in both overt and subtle ways, with a relative lack of resistance to gender division. The division and gender order are maintained through discourse and practices that support particular forms of masculinity with an emphasis on athletic embodiment and sports knowledge. This gender division affects power relations in the classroom, hindering the facilitation of gender-inclusive environments and gender-sensitive practices that are obligatory in Icelandic education policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalEthnography and Education
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by The University of Iceland Research Fund [grant number HI17120065]; NordForsk via the Nordic Centre of Excellence: Justice through Education in the Nordic Countries [grant number 57741].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Other keywords

  • Compulsory school
  • discursive
  • ethnography
  • gender binary
  • material
  • space

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