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Research on Popular Education

Mimer – the Swedish network for research on popular education has since the founding 1990, been one of the central institutes for research on popular education in Sweden and Scandinavia. The name Mimer was originally referring to an ancient Nordic mythology figure with extraordinary wisdoms.

The contemporary name refers to a research network devoted to the conditions, processes and outcomes of adult learning in various popular educational settings. Ever since the popular movements in Scandinavia made a large-scale effort to organize themselves in the 19th century, popular education in Sweden has been associated with the existence of folk high schools and the creation of study circles. The type of research carried out in Mimer today is focusing on popular education in its various forms, contexts and issues.      

Mimer is governed by an interdisciplinary advisory board (Mimerrådet) consisting of leading researchers and popular educators across Sweden in the broad area of popular education. The secretariat of the research network is hosted by Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, the division for Adult learning and Education. Associate professor Henrik Nordvall is the director of Mimer.

The aims of Mimer are:

  • Promoting research on popular education, no matter academic discipline or setting.
  • Creating, maintaining and developing a network and dialogue among researchers, as well as between researchers and popular educators
  • Disseminating information about popular educational research    
  • Creating arenas that foster and establish cooperation between researchers and between researchers and popular educators.
  • Promoting overviews and research summaries of various topics relevant to the field of popular education
  • Promoting Nordic and International contacts in popular education as well as in Mimers’ own activities
  • Making research on popular education visible electronically
  • Strengthening the interest in research on popular education within relevant fields of politics  

This is carried out through:

  • An annual Research Conference  
  • Seminars in cooperation with other actors 
  • PhD-courses with nation-wide recruitment
  • Anthologies and short texts
  • A newsletter (Mimerbladet) two times per year
  • E-mail list (Mimernet)
Open access publications

Popular Education, Power and Democracy: Swedish Experiences and Contributions

Popular education is a distinctive approach to lifelong learning in that it has always concerned itself with the relationship between learning, power and democracy. Mimer has initiated an international anthology which examine the themes of power and democracy through the distinctive Swedish tradition of popular education. It provides both a lens for a micro analysis of popular education’s contribution to enhancing people¿s lives in communities and a mirror for reflecting on their wider significance. The book include contributions from Swedish researchers as well as researchers from Canada, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. The editors of the book are Ann-Marie Laginder, Linköping University, Henrik Nordvall, Linköping University and Jim Crowther, Edinburgh University.  The book is published by NIACE.

Read full text here


Study Circles in Sweden

Mimer has in cooperation with Linköping University Electronic Press published a short text Study Circles in Sweden: An Overview with a Bibliography of International Literature written by Staffan Larsson and Henrik Nordvall.

The authors aim to give an overview of study circles as a tradition and state of the art at present time. The point of departure is primarily a Swedish context, even though there are some comments about study circles elsewhere. Drawing on results from empirical research done by Swedish researchers, as well as public statistics and evaluations, the ambition is to portray the study circles and their institutional context in Sweden. In addition, there is a bibliography of literature on study circles in Sweden and internationally.

Read full text here»


Folkbildning across borders - resources, networks and transnational commitment

The report presents the results of a survey of transnational activities of folk high schools and study associations carried out in 2009. The survey was initiated by Mimer and the Swedish Council of Adult Education. The work was conducted by Erik Nylander, Kerstin Mustel and Therése Jansson and published by the Swedish Council of Adult education. Fulltext on their webpage.


Non-formal Adult Education in the Nordic countries 2011-2012

Short overview and national overviews as pdf-files




Henrik Nordvall
Associate professor, director

+46 13-28 21 40

Annika Pastuhov
Postdoctoral research fellow, co-director


postal address

Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning
SE-581 83 Linköping


Page manager: henrik.nordvall@liu.se
Last updated: 2018-10-18