Our research specialisms

Research in Swedish at Södertörn University has three main specialities. These are described below, along with examples of research projects.

The research area the covers “linguistic practices in working life” is interested in linguistic aspects of work-related knowledge, i.e. in the role that communication (spoken or written) has at work. Its foundation is that contemporary working life (sometimes describes in terms of the new order of work) increasingly deals with reading and writing – but also speaking. This means that soon, almost all professions, even those that have traditionally been regarded as practical, have a discursive aspect: working is largely expressing yourself.

Two projects within this theme examine professional linguistics in a language other than the mother tongue. The first, which recently ended, deals with transport orders for people with disabilities that are directed to call centres in Chisinau in Moldavia or Falköping in Sweden (Linda Kahlin & Ingela Tykesson). The other covers the introduction to medical Swedish in Poland that is given to doctors recruited abroad (Kahlin & Tykesson). One shared objective in these projects is to develop understanding what the concept of interactional expertise entails and its significance for language acquisition and teaching. The project Arbetskraft från Östersjöområdet [Labour from the Baltic Sea region] (Söderlundh & Kahlin) is also run here; its aim is to investigate language and working life within the EU, examining Estonian and Polish tradesmen in Sweden.

Other, now completed, projects in this theme include the documentation practices of care workers (Zoe Nikolaidou), medical advisors’ conversational expertise (Mats Landqvist), interpersonal communication issues in the care sector (Mats Landqvist, Ingela Tykesson) and public authorities’ communication (Hedda Söderlundh). Barbro Allardt Ljunggrens research about the holiday work perform by young Norwegians also belongs here.

The second specialisation is critical linguistic analyses with ideological overtones. It examines issues of gender and discrimination, looking towards language policy and towards the concrete use of languages in social practice. For example, Karin Milles and Lena Lind Palicki (Language Council of Sweden) are running a project on the women’s movement and language, which aims to investigate how the women’s movement has used language and language reforms as a political tool. This specialisation can also be exemplified by Daniel Wojahn’s thesis on linguistic activism, Språkaktivism, which discusses feminist linguistic change in Sweden from the 1960s to 2015 regarding perceptions of gender and naming practices and which was published in 2015. Another completed project covers that role of language in processes of discrimination and marginalisation in various organisations of societal importance. It was conducted by Mats Landqvist in partnership with Lann Hornscheidt (Berlin) and resulted in a book, Språk och diskriminering [Language and Discrimination] (2014).

The third area of research deals with the role and use of language in schools and higher education, as well as on language learning in other environments. In the research area of Studies in the Educational Sciences, doctoral student Simon Magnusson is examining citizen participation and citizen education. Doctoral student Urika Nemeth is investigating critical reading practices as part of Swedish. In two thesis projects linked to Teacher Education at Södertörn University, Sari Vuorenpää (PhD 2016) and Ann-Christin Randahl (PhD 2014) examined school pupils’ reading and writing development from a multilingual perspective. Maria Eklund Heinonen’s completed postdoc survey of teaching and learning in higher education and Swedish as a second language also belongs here. Stina Hållsten is studying learning and digital tools, Jenny Magnusson the effects of writing support in higher education and Anna Malmbjer the use of writing in middle school. Anna Malmbjer’s thesis on group conversation and learning in higher education. Boel de Geer’s research on early language socialisation is also relevant to the research area, and compares family interaction in old and new democracies around the Baltic Sea, and Hedda Söderlundh’s research on English as a language of instruction in higher education is also relevant.

Two of the subject’s researchers (Mats Landqvist & Zoe Nikolaidou) were part of a recently completed project on health literacy, which dealt with the acquisition of information and knowledge among expectant mothers in association with early diagnosis of heart problems in the foetus. The project investigates how people act in situations where they need to absorb complex and multifaceted information about health, understand its importance to their lives and use it to make vital decisions. The overarching purpose is to examine the learning processes that are relevant after a disease is diagnosed, to identify barriers and opportunities for action and understanding.