The making of the reading citizen. Public debate and policy 1945-2017
The promotion of, as well as attempts to prohibit, reading practices are important political tools in the ambition of making citizens more productive and democratic, and of creating a sense of national community. Reading policy is often studied from particular disciplinary or institutionally based perspectives and an overarching study of the reading citizen as a political object is missing.
Start date: 2018-01-01
End date: 2020-12-31
The purpose of this project is to create an understanding of how the reading habits of the Swedish population have been publicly discussed as a political problem 1945-2017. Selected cases from three areas of policy and debate are studied through discourse analysis: literature and literature mediation; public libraries and reading promotion; and education and reading instruction.
The project takes its point of departure in contemporary discussions which are traced back in time through policy texts and related media debates. Of particular interest is how the reading citizen is constructed over time; the types of reading that are deemed desirable and undesirable; and how scientific evidence and research is used to underpin arguments in the debates. Compared to previous studies, this project spans over several policy areas which entails that relationships between these areas are highlighted. The project is of broader societal relevance as it creates a historically grounded understanding of contemporary policy problem formulations –which often are understood as new – in the field of reading.