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Kamp om rummet: en studie av heteronormativitet i Svenska kyrkan
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Media.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Struggle about the room : a study of heteronormativity within the Swedish church (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis deals with questions concerning ongoing constructions of heterosexuality as a norm in the Swedish church. Empirically the study is based partly on interviews with thirteen homo- and bisexual priests, one district visitor and one church politician and partly on some of the church’s own inquiries and documents concerning the question of Christianity and ”deviant” sexuality.

The aim for this study is to examine how norms for sexuality, coexistence and gender are repeated in the documents created by the Swedish church itself about homosexuality and Christianity and to discern how these norms are present and have sense – are reproduced, challenged and transformed in life stories of Christian homo- and bisexual individuals. To be able to see how the notion of homosexuality as abnormal is reproduced, secured and challenged I have chosen to interpret texts, observations and life stories from a critical discourse perspective. In this theoretical tradition it is central to stress how, or rather to investigate what strategies are used to produce and maintain notions of ”abnormality”.

One dominating view in the discussions within the church is that homosexuals and heterosexuals have equal value but that partnership cannot be equated with marriage. This understanding is expressed in my examples of formations of heteronormativity within the church.

In the interview persons’ narratives there are discourses represented that are articulated in the church’s own inquiries but the narratives also express counter discourses. They speak about themselves in relation to, for example, imperative heterosexuality, homosexual ideals, core family ideals, theological way of thinking and dichotomizing understanding of gender. I have identified several ”uses” in the narratives and all of them are contained in an overall Christian homosexual ”us”.

Instead of viewing themselves as being ”wrong” some of the interview persons have moved the problem to the heteronormativity. Experiences of not being part of the norm have made them strong and willing to struggle and fight for their rights. This position, outside the norm, is by some viewed positively. The homosexuals’ experiences of oppression have led to a desire to liberate the church from homophobia and show ”the true” church, where no one is discriminated.

Homosexuals are accepted within the church, but only as deviants. This way heterosexuality is being made the superior category. Its meaning and superior position cannot be questioned according to many of the church’s representatives. Still, this is exactly what is happening when homosexuals are increasingly visible to the public and when they challenge the heterosexual norm. This provocation makes the heterosexual norm visible and forces representatives of the norm to deal with it!

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för kultur och medier, Umeå universitet , 2005. , 180 p.
Etnologiska skrifter, ISSN 1103-6516 ; 35
Keyword [en]
ethnology, discourse, norm, normality, abnormality, experience, dichotomy, power, heteronormativity, heterosexuality, homo- and bisexuality, gender, identity, Swedish church, theology, Christianity, ”us” and ”them”, partnership, marriage and life story
Keyword [sv]
etnologi, diskurs, norm, normalitet, erfarenhet, dikotomi, makt, heteronormativitet, heterosexualitet, homo- och bisexualitet, genus, identitet, svenska kyrkan, teologi, kristendom, vi och dom, partnerskap, and livshistoria
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-544ISBN: 91-6286-529-3OAI: diva2:143779
Public defence
2005-05-20, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Författaren har bytt efternamn till Holst.Available from: 2005-05-20 Created: 2005-05-20 Last updated: 2011-04-04Bibliographically approved

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