Enabling multilingualism or disabling multilinguals? Interrogating linguistic discrimination in Swedish preschool policy





In this paper we conduct a poststructural discourse analysis inspired by Carol Bacchi’s ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ (WRP) approach. We explore what kinds of problems are formulated in preschool educational policy on multilingualism, and what underlying assumptions underlie the dominant discourse on language proficiency in Sweden. Serving as a case to discuss how racism, ableism and childism intersect with linguicism, we examine the importance of shifting from a ‘children’s (special) needs’ discourse to a ‘children’s (language) rights’ discourse through a social justice education framework.   We draw upon Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s understanding of childism, which refers to prejudice and discrimination against children based on beliefs about their inferiority to adults. The right to and rights in education are constituent upon linguistic rights, upon students learning to use their first language, whether that be minority, indigenous or sign language.


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Author Biographies

Rebecca Adami, Stockholm University, Sweden

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Education, Stockholm University. 

Liz Adams Lyngbäck, Stockholm University, Sweden

Lecturer at the Department of Special Education, Stockholm University.


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How to Cite

Adami, R., & Adams Lyngbäck, L. (2024). Enabling multilingualism or disabling multilinguals? Interrogating linguistic discrimination in Swedish preschool policy. Human Rights Education Review, 7(1), 5–25. https://doi.org/10.7577/hrer.5274

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