Recognising debate types within the classroom

An expansion of prevailing conceptual divisions


  • Anita Norlund



agonism, analytical tool, Chantal Mouffe, classroom, differences of opinion


Although much research has previously addressed elements of classroom discourse and the practices of pupils' debate and discussion, I argue there is a need to expand the framework for analysing the forms of such oral classroom activities, particularly regarding expressions of differences in opinion. Commonly applied analytical tools generally recognise just two forms, adversarial and deliberative. By operationalising a conceptual set of categories defining how differences in opinion are expressed within the classroom, I show that this is too narrow. A third form (agonistic) can be recognised based on Chantal Mouffe's theory of democracy and politics, and another form is what I call the relativistic. Thus, I propose an analytical framework with a set of four forms to address the nature of debate. By providing empirical classroom examples to support each form, this article is intended not only for researchers but also to benefit practising teachers.




How to Cite

Norlund, A. (2016). Recognising debate types within the classroom: An expansion of prevailing conceptual divisions. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 16(1), 1–18.