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Research presentation

Fredrik Jahnke

Research presentation

Fredrik Jahnke

Senior lecturer

Research subject: Religious Studies

Fredrik Jahnke is a senior lecturer in the Religious Studies/Religious Education.


Children, young people and sense making about religion, children, young people and identity, concepts in religious education: safe space and religious literacy.


In my dissertation (2021) I studied children's and young people's sense-making about religion from a linguistic perspective. The empirical material was formed by interviews with students (grades 3, 6, and 9) in the Swedish compulsory school. My main interest was not the teaching per se, but rather the life worlds and sense-making of religion by young people, in their own right. Concerning religion, my point of departure was very broad and included discourses about various phenomena far beyond what we usually talk about as religions (i.e. different World religions).

The results showed, among other things, that children and young people have a certain interest in religion and the affiliation of others. However, on the other hand, they avoid talking about it. One reason for that is that they wanted to avoid conflicts and be intolerant. I speak of this as sacrificing speech about religion on the altar of tolerance. Being tolerant, in their meaning, was more important than speaking about religion. The results also showed that students in the Swedish school have a rather limited language and limited experience in talking to each other about religion. They also seemed to lack the linguistic flexibility that talking about religion with others requires. These and other results in the thesis open up a series of challenges and discussions in the field of religious education. Some of these I discuss in the thesis, others are the basis for further research.

In my dissertation as well as in my continuing work I have taken an interest in and problematized various concepts in religious education research. Two of them are safe space and religious literacy. My ambition has been, on the one hand, to make these concepts more uniform, and thus more useful in religious education research, and on the other to relate them to my empirical material.

Published by: Sara Perttunen Sundberg Page responsible: Annika Elm Updated: 2023-10-05
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