The influence of Sweden’s place image on the decision-making process of queer migrants
Abstract: The queer experience has only become relatively recently a topic of study within migration scholarship. Despite it being seen as a ‘special interest’ field, a lot can be learned about processes of migration decision-making overall, by applying queer theory to it. Furthermore, the concept of place image, which is most often applied to research concerning tourist destinations and the ‘country of origin effect’ on commodities, has in recent years also been more and more incorporated into migration studies. In particular, this topic seems to fit well in studies that take a behavioural approach to migration. This thesis concerns itself with synthesising the three topics mentioned above through descriptive and exploratory research. Based on a quantitative study among 119 queer migrants to Sweden, I give some insights into how queer migrants imagined Sweden before their arrival, how they constructed this image of Sweden, and how (imagined) queer-friendliness functioned as a factor in their migration decision-making process. I found that in general, queer migrants imagined Sweden as a progressive and queer-friendly place and that they based this mainly on news media, online sources and friends and family who already lived there. However, the ways in which they made use of Sweden’s place image is fairly differentiated when looking at specific demographic groups and the respondents' migration motives. The results of this study can be used as a basis to further studies on queer migration, both in Sweden and in other geographical contexts. Furthermore, this thesis develops a usable framework for applying the concept of place image to migration studies.
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