Swedish texts ‘filled with ideological bias’

Several books used to teach Swedish as a second language are plagued with ideological bias, according to a recent academic study.

For a doctoral dissertation to be published on Friday, Jörgen Mattlar from Uppsala University examined five text books used to teach Swedish to both young people and adults who have moved to Sweden, as well as to students born and raised in Sweden.

According to Mattlar, two books in particular, Dikt och verklighet (‘Fiction and reality’), published in 1996, and På G (On G), published in 2004, present a one-sided view infused with left-leaning, Social Democratic ideology.

He cites one example in particular where students are encouraged to practice their pronunciation by saying “socialdemokratiska ungdomsförbundet” (‘Social Democratic youth association’).

The 2002 book På tapeten (‘On the agenda’) presents a more nuanced approach, dealing with activism and social disobedience and directing critique at multinational corporations, while also stressing that the state can pose a threat to individuals.

The two other books included in Mattlar’s analysis are more right-leaning, emphasizing free markets and the importance of the individual.

The study also shows that the books don’t place very high expectations on target students, assuming they lack previous knowledge and failing to provide them with any role models from well-established career tracks.

“The ambition seems to be to get the target group, which in segregated Swedish society is socioeconomically subordinate, to adopt Swedish values about secularization, equality, and child rearing,” writes Mattlar in his abstract.

He adds that, in so doing, the books undercut the multiculturalism which lies at the heart of Sweden’s official integration policies, according to which differences are affirmed.