Work Package 3

National Case Studies of Challenges to Tolerance in School Life



To investigate the meaning and practices of tolerance as related to ethnic, cultural and religious diversity challenges in school life and/or education-related issues

To investigate what kind of cultural diversity is tolerated in schools – what practices are considered tolerant or intolerant and what values/norms are considered to promote or undermine tolerance in schools

To investigate how the embodiment of tolerance in school life (norms and) practices relates to concepts such as multiculturalism, liberalism, respect, understanding, national heritage and national tradition.


Description of work

All academic partners are actively involved in this WP. The WP is coordinated by Partner 8 (University of Amsterdam, Veit Bader).


Each partner conducts a case study on their own country. We shall focus on three types of issues in the context of school life:

Presentation of self and interactions in the school context:

  • Language (speaking of minority languages, regulation of abusive language,  learning to discuss controversial issues such as homosexuality or anti-Semitism)
  • Dress (including religiously motivated, school uniforms)
  • Behaviour (including violence, gestures, sexist or racist acts)

Curriculum, pedagogy and educational culture:

  • Teaching: i.e. teaching history (e.g. Holocaust, national history), teaching on  gender/sexuality, teaching of religion
  • The non accommodation of specific demands (e.g. school swimming)

Structure of the educational system:

  • Segregation/mixing of ethnic, religious and cultural groups
  • Tolerance and parallel educational institutions


The research conducted in this WP involves


Task 3.1 Each partner will engage into desk research to identify key challenging events and issues in relation to the three categories of issues outlined above.


Task 3.2 Desk research reviewing secondary sources (e.g. media coverage, internet sources, blogs, political debates, parliamentary proceedings if relevant, policy consultations, other grey material and of course relevant academic studies if available, paying special attention to studies in the language of the country under study). 

We shall use this material to answer the questions: what kind of cultural diversity is tolerated in schools? What practices are considered tolerant or intolerant? And what values/norms are considered to promote or undermine tolerance in the school environment?


Task 3.3 Qualitative interviews (15-20) with social and policy actors involved in controversies on cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in schools with a view to understanding better their understanding of diversity and the way to deal with this, with special reference to the relevance for this of concepts, norms, practices and policies/institutions that related to tolerance but not only (also pluralism, liberalism, national identity, secularism, integration)


Task 3.4 Interviews will be transcribed verbatim and will be inserted into a Computer Assisted Qualitative Discourse Analysis Software. Interviews will be analysed adopting the Critical Discourse Analysis tradition looking at discursive ‘topoi’ and at rhetoric strategies used by actors.


Task 3.5 Each partner will draft a country report on practices and conceptions of tolerance developing when cultural diversity challenges arise in schools. This report will be based both on secondary sources and the qualitative interviews conducted. Each partner will also draft a Policy Brief on the basis of this report and incorporating input from social actors participating in the discussion groups outlined below.


Task 3.6 Draft reports will be presented in at least one discussion group bringing together academics, education policy practitioners of different levels (educators but also policy makers), NGOs, trade unions in education professions, and possibly media professionals.



D3.1 Final Country Reports on Concepts and Practices of Tolerance Addressing Cultural diversity in Schools (to be delivered on month 18).
D3.2 Synthesis and Highlights of Country Reports on Concepts and Practices of Tolerance Addressing Cultural Diversity in Schools (to be delivered on month 20).
D3.3 Policy Briefs on Tolerance and Cultural Diversity in Schools (to be delivered on month 20).



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Basic Information


Project Coordinator:
Prof. Anna Triandafyllidou,
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (European University Institute)

Funded by: the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme, Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities

Duration: 1 March 2010-31 May 2013

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this web site do not necessarily reflect the views of the E. C.