Our research project Perceptions and Constructions of Marginalisation and Belonging in Education (PeCMaBE) examines marginalization in Finnish comprehensive schools especially in relation to the role of schools and teachers in the construction of marginalization of pupils.

A fair amount of research has been done on the marginalization of children and youth but in most cases the school’s role has been assumed to be positive in preventing marginalization and providing opportunities to disminish marginalization. The significance of our study is that it takes the students’ own views (how do they perceive and construct marginalization?) as the departing point. The students will act as co-researchers and the focus of the study is on the data that they will collect. We also study the attitudes, expectations and actions of principals, teachers and other school personnel (e.g. school psychologists, nurses, administration staff) that can make students’ marginalization less or more likely. We anticipate that this will allow us to show that marginalization is a multifaceted phenomenon in education, and not just reduced to certain categories of students (e.g. migrants).

Based on ethnographic studies in two schools in one large city in Finland we will propose some macro- and micro-strategies for reducing marginalization caused by teachers and schools. The data will be collected through a mix of methods such as participant observations and interviews as well as more innovative methods like focus groups, mapping of marginalization, photography, photo-elicitation interviews and logs. The analysis of the triangulated data is based on discourse analysis and thematic analysis, which all allow examining data in a complex and multidimensional way.

The Pecmabe project is part of the Nordic Centre of Excellence ”Justice through education in the nordic countries” (JustEd) research network. Please visit this page for more information about JustEd.