A phenomenographic study embracing the "wickedness" of education as sustainable development: Mapping the qualitatively different ways in which South-East European immigrants in Sweden understand the concept of Sustainable Development
Aim: This research is situated in education as sustainable development. It, therefore, aims to embrace the ‘‘wickedness’’ of sustainable development by allowing for qualitatively different ways of understanding to emerge from the participants’ descriptions. The selected group of participants come from the South-East European region, which research describes as having a unique structure in terms of culture, politics, economy, and education in comparison to the rest of Europe (including Sweden). These people now live in a society which research describes as sustainably developed society. Therefore, it is assumed that the qualitatively different ways in which South-Eastern European immigrants in Sweden understand the phenomena embrace the ‘‘wickedness’’ of said phenomena by providing unique points of view. Theory: The conceptual framework of this research is the overarching notion that guides the entire research process. The concept of ‘‘wicked problems’’ is, therefore, selected as the sensitising concept of the whole study. However, while this concept does encourage explorative research, it does not necessarily provide a scholarly support for the way data is interpreted and presented. This is where the theoretical framework comes at play as the structure which supports the way theory is related to the data analysis. Therefore, research acknowledges the use of phenomenography as a theory of human cognition and understanding on the basis of its epistemological and ontological assumptions. Method: This research is explorative in nature, and it is conducted under the methodological implications of phenomenography as a research approach. Therefore, individual phenomenographic semi-structured interviews is the data collection method of choice. And data interpretations are fished out from the pool of meaning and presented in the outcome space of the research in the form of categories of description. Results: The participants displayed an extensive awareness and an array of understandings about the complexity and ‘‘wickedness’’ of sustainable development and its educational equivalent. The qualitatively different ways of understanding were organised in six categories of description. Hence, sustainable development and/ or educational forms in relation to sustainable development were understood as: a responsibility, a concern of the rich and developed, a capitalistic propaganda, a core of Swedish society, a holistic approach, and a wicked problem. This research essentially shows an ‘‘acceptance of coexisting ontologies’’ that illustrates how a specific group forms the knowledge and understandings of complex phenomena against a background of different actors and social spaces (including education).
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