The position of dance in physical education

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The position of dance in physical education

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title The position of dance in physical education
Author(s) Mattsson, Torun ; Lundvall, Suzanne
Date 2013
English abstract
Dance has been a part of the physical education (PE) curriculum in several countries for a long time. In spite of this, studies demonstrate that the position of dance in the subject of PE is contested and that little time is devoted to dance. The overall aim of this article is to examine the position of dance as a pedagogical discourse in Swedish steering documents over time. The empirical material consists of five Swedish curricula for PE over a period of 50 years (1962–2011). Discourse analysis is used to identify organised systems of meaning, including privileged and prioritised values. Our theoretical frame of reference draws on Bernstein’s concept of codes. Three different knowledge areas within dance are found in the text material: ‘dance as cultural preserver’, ‘dance as bodily exercise’ and ‘dance as expression’. Three pedagogical discourses emerge from these knowledge areas: an identity formation discourse, a public health discourse and an aesthetic discourse. The identity formation discourse in earlier curricula focuses on the perpetuation of Swedish and Nordic cultural traditions, while in later curricula, it emphasises the construction of a broader multicultural identity formation related to the understanding of different cultures. The public health discourse constitutes a prioritised understanding of dance as physical training related to a healthy lifestyle. The aesthetic discourse, which has the weakest position over time, represents the valuing of embodied experiences and feelings expressed through movements. This discourse is closely linked to the construction of gender. Over time, a new performance code came to surpass the former competence code in the steering documents. The performance code positions dance in PE as mainly a physical activity with little artistic or aesthetic value. The pedagogical discourse of dance remains within a highly disciplinary framework of social control.
DOI (link to publisher's fulltext)
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Host/Issue Sport, education and society;
ISSN 1357-3322
Pages e-pub ahead of prin
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Dance
Physical education
Discourse analysis
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
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