When discussing children’s leisure-time centers in Sweden, talk about their activities is often couched in terms of meaningfulness. This appeal to «meaningfulness» can be seen as a useful but also a troublesome rhetorical resource. When educational authorities formulate institutional assignments, they must accommodate opposing views and yet meet certain political recommendations. An analytical perspective both informed by Michel Foucault’s writings on ‘governmentality’ as well as Michael Billig’s notion of ideological dilemmas will in this study be harnessed. Principally, this study investigates the ideological tension between democracy and authority, which the governmental authority, ‘The Swedish Schools Inspectorate’, must take care of in its linguistic work. This paper argues that the concept of meaningfulness is used in order to bridge various contradictions surrounding the democracy-authority dilemma.

Keywords: Ideological dilemmas, rhetoric, the concept of meaningfulness, The Swedish Schools Inspectorate, Leisure-time Centers