Becoming a "Foreigner": The Principle of Equality, Intersected Identities, and Social Exclusion in the Norwegian School
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEuropean Education : Issues and Studies. 2017, 49 (2-3), 151-165. 10.1080/10564934.2017.1335173
This article explores how some minority pupils’ self-definition as “foreigners” leads to their inability to also consider themselves diligent and talented pupils in the Norwegian school. The minority pupils’ self-definition as “foreigners” creates binary understandings of being a diligent and conscientious pupil, a definition that is often interpreted as being “Norwegian.” Through observations and conversations with young minority pupils in upper secondary school about their everyday lives, this article shows how the bodies and behavior of some minority pupils are excluded in a firm and often instinctive understanding of equality conceived as sameness. It is argued that even if the concepts of diversity and tolerance are important foundations in the Norwegian education policy, this principle creates a specific notion of a “normal pupil.” This tacit normality has different consequences for different minority pupils, creating complex intersected identities along the categories of gender, social class, and ethnicity. While the notion of a normal pupil creates social exclusion for some pupils with a minority background, this article argues that the entanglement of other categories provides opportunities for success for other minority pupils in the same educational system.