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Flickor i rörelse!: En historisk studie av folkskoleflickors identitets- och genusprocess 1900–1930
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2016 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

For a long time, few historical studies have focused on the life of girls, especially rural, working class girls’ experiences. Within the field of Swedish educational history, scholars have tended to delve into the lives of the daughters of the bourgeoisie rather than the girls in the public elementary schools (folkskolan). Because of this, the dominant image that comes to mind when thinking of a turn of the century schoolgirl is someone from the upper class attending an all girls’ school. This master’s thesis aims to widen both the field of girlhood studies and that of educational history by looking at the “process of girling” taking place in the Swedish public elementary school between 1900 and 1930.

A starting point is the notion explored by Judith Butler and Fanny Ambjörnsson: that gender is a result of repeated actions, such as running in a certain way, playing with your friends, or wearing specific clothes – or the absence of these actions. This thesis explores these actions, in addition to the reaction of the worlds around them. Utilizing data collected from nine school related questionnaires sent out between the 1950s and 1990s by The Institute for Language and Folklore, it compares the experience of an average schoolgirl with the dominant bourgeoisie ideal and the ideal taken from a dominant periodical for public elementary school teachers. Actions of resistance, queer or “skeva” acts and how they play a part in the process of girling, will also be explored.

The primary conclusion drawn from the analysis of this material is that the situation for working class girls differs somewhat from that of more privileged peers, as well as the ideal constructed in the periodical. While girls from the bourgeoisie were also expected to fulfill the role of wife and mother, the conditions differed. One example is the kind of rural crafts or handicraft made by the working class girls from an early age. This activity was an important contribution the economy of the family and definitely not a past time as it was in the upper class. Even though a ban on child labor had been passed, it seemed as though children working was a very normalized part of life in rural areas as more often than not, it was children that were responsible for bringing water into the classroom and tending the iron stove.

The possibilities for working class girls appears to have been limited continuing into the 1920s as the only secondary education available for a majority of the girls was in domestic skills for the purpose of managing a private household. Although young women from the upper class were shut out from many professions, they still had greater access to higher education. On the contrary, most working class women did not even attend secondary school as evidenced by the source material report showing women staying on the home farm, or starting work somewhere else. Firmness and austerity of mind can be identified among the girls at a time where the everyday work at home and in school needed to be done and sulking simply was not an option. The many reports of actions of resistance to the social norm show that the limits of girlhood were constantly being challenged by the schoolgirls in the study.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 77 p.
Keyword [en]
Girlhood studies, process of girling, memory
Keyword [sv]
Utbildningshistoria, flickforskning, folkskolan, skevhet, flickors tillblivandeprocess, genus, identitet, minnen
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-294518OAI: diva2:930190
Subject / course
2016-05-31, ENG1-1021, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-06-02 Created: 2016-05-23 Last updated: 2016-06-02Bibliographically approved

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