Staff – University of Copenhagen

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Trine Øland

Trine Øland

Associate Professor

Primary fields of research

My primary fields of research are sociology of education and history of education. In particular, I am interested in the history and sociology of welfare state progressivism and integrationism in a post-Enlightenment perspective; the history and sociology of progressive pedagogy in Denmark; and critical studies of classification and racialization processes in connection to development and transformation of educational ideas and practices. I use a variety of methodological approaches, primarily historical and archival sources, observations and ethnographic field research, sociological interviewing and analyses of documents.

Previously, I have observed and analysed the social practice of thematic work and project work in public schools in a social class perspective (1970s and 2000s), examined the cultural constructs of the child and human potential in progressive pedagogy in Denmark as part of an international and scientific enlightenment movement (1920s to 1950s), conducted a collective biography of 549 Danish progressive ‘school-pedagogues’ such as teachers, psychologists, artists, philosophers, etc. (1929-1960), and studied the political and educational ideas of canons on culture, history and democracy and the role intellectuals play in this context (2000-2010).


Current research

I am currently working on the project “The dynamics of welfare work addressing the immigrant and refugee – symbolic boundary work and the making of society” (2013-2017). The project is a sociological study of competing and conflating welfare workers’ ambigious work vis-à-vis the immigrant and refugee, and it, e.g., carves out the symbolic resources  and the societal forms and interactions mobilised and activated in modern welfare work in the margin. At the moment I am preparing a book manuscript titled "Welfare Work with Immigrants and Refugees in a Social Democratic Welfare State" to be published by Routledge. The project has been funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research, Section of Humanities. In continuation of this project, I explore racialization processes linked to welfare work in the aftermath of refugee arrivals in collaboration with Marta Padovan-Özdemir, VIA University College.

I am also working on a project entitled "The geopolitics of Danish progressivism in the 20th century." Through in-depth studies of the activities of teacher Torben Gregersen (1911-1994) and teacher and psychologist Sofie Rifbjerg (1886-1981), I study their national and transnational activities in relation to New Education Fellowship and other international associations in order to gain knowledge about how modern notions about the child, its potential and schooling for democracy in Danish education was produced in a global context of geopolicial contructs.

Finally, I am engaged in the project “Inside the child: the institutionalisation of psychological theories about children and education in Denmark 1930s – 1960s” with Christian Sandbjerg Hansen, University of Aarhus. This project is dedicated to the study of the social space in which educational idea and theory emerge, gain territory and become institutionalised and legitimate or not.

I am currently Head of the research group The History and Sociology of Welfare Work (2014-)  and member of the research group Children, Media and Culture.

I am also chairman of the professional board (faggruppen) of the Consortium for Education and professional welfare work; a collaboration between University College UCC and Section of Education, Faculty of Humanities, Univresity of Copenhagen (2015-) 

And since 2003, I have been editor of the Danish educational journal Dansk pædagogisk Tidsskrift (DpT) 

I have supervised and am currently supervising the following Ph.D.-theses:

Eva Bertelsen (co-supervisor): 'Curriculum' til fremtiden? Karakteristikker af "den nye gymnasieskole" gennem perspektiver på institution, nybyggeri og elevsubjektiviteter, Ørestad Gymnasium som case (graduated 2013)

Marta Padovan-Özdemir (principal supervisor): The Making of Educationally Manageable Immigrant Schoolchildren in Denmark, 1970–2013: A Critical Prism for Studying the Fabrication of a Danish Welfare Nation State (graduated 2016)

Katrine Lindvig (co-supervisor): Creating Interdisciplinarity within Monodisciplinary Structures (graduated 2017). Institut for Naturfagenes Didaktik, KU.

Sofie Rosengaard (principal supervisor): Pædagogik i en krisetid. [Daycare Education In A Time Of Crisis] (2014-2018)

Marianne Brodersen (co-supervisor): Den ”forstyrrende” elev som interventionsfelt for professionelle i og omkring skolen. Et studie af dynamikker i professionel viden mellem elever, professionelle og stat. [The “disturbing” child as field of intervention for professionals in and around the school. A study of the dynamics of professional knowledge between pupils, professionals and state] (2015-2018). Roskilde Universitet.

Lone Bæk Brønsted (principal supervisor): Lærerarbejde og socialpædagogik. [Teacher Work and Social Pedagogy] (2016-2019)

Malene Kubstrup Nelausen (principal supervisor): Elevfællesskaber og inkluderede elevers mulighed for at blive til som elever og klassekammerater efter inklusionsloven (2016-2019)

Stine Saabye Bach (principal supervisor): Skolens eksistensbetingelser for elever med social angst [Conditions of existence for pupils who suffer from social anxiety] (2017-2020)

Stine Thygesen (principal supervisor): Normaliseringspraktikker og anbragte børns skolegang: velfærdsarbejdets praksis og potentialer [Welfare work towards children in care] (2017-2020)


I have taught and teach the following courses (or similar):

The History of Education (BA)

Sociology of Pedagogy and Sociology of Education (BA)

Educational Research and research methods in Education (BA)

The field of educational sciences (MA)

Analysis of educational issues (MA)

I supervise papers, MA-thesis and PhD-thesis within these areas

Selected publications

  1. Published

    ‘‘Human potential’ and progressive pedagogy: a long cultural history of the ambiguity of ‘race’ and ‘intelligence’’

    Øland, T. 2017 Sociology of Education II. Ball, S. J. (ed.). London: Routledge, (Routledge's Major Themes in Education series).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  2. Published

    Reformpædagogik - progressiv pædagogik

    Øland, T. 20 Jan 2017 Didaktikhåndbogen: Teorier og temaer. Laursen, P. F. & Kristensen, H. J. (eds.). København: Hans Reitzels Forlag, p. 107-127 20 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  3. Published

    The Social Making of Educational Theory: Unravelling How to Understand the Content, Emergence, and Transformation of Educational Theory

    Øland, T. & Sandbjerg Hansen, C. 24 Nov 2014 In : Nordic Journal of Educational History. 1, 2, p. 3-26 24 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  4. Published

    Integrationisme i pædagogisk forskning og professionalisme

    Øland, T. & Larsen, V. 2011 In : Praktiske Grunde. Tidsskrift for kultur- og samfundsvidenskab. 5, 1, p. 5-16 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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