Legal Consciousness and Language Rights: Passing on Finnish Minority Language to Future Generations in Sweden.

University essay from Lunds universitet/Rättssociologiska institutionen

Abstract: When law is ambiguously articulated or various legal norms and obligations are working simultaneously, it creates a puzzling situation to individuals that are expected to follow or live under the unclear law. To study these instances, one must depart from the analysis of formal legal texts and legal institutions into the everyday experiences and perceptions of individual citizens. The aim of this study is precisely this – to capture the diversity of individual understandings on law and legality in the field of educational language rights to national minorities. The focus is on the Swedish Finnish minority and Finnish preschool education in Malmö. This particular case is selected as the municipality of Malmö in south of Sweden has recently joined the so-called Finnish administrative area, making the Finnish language an official minority language with special rights under the Swedish Act on National Minorities and National Minority Languages (SFS 2009:724). The study is conducted by collecting six narratives on the lived experiences of individuals in Malmö. The narratives are gathered from two diverging perspectives; from parents of children who have the right to Finnish education in preschool in Malmö, and from municipal officials in charge of implementing this right into the local education system. Through the theoretical lens of Ewick and Silbey’s (1998) legal consciousness, this study aims at showing how the right to language education is socially constructed in a reciprocal process, where individual interpretations and perceptions on law and legality have a central role in determining the outcome of the law’s translation into societal practices.

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