The Pathway to Refugee Integration: A Study focusing on the Processes and Dynamics to Culture Integration into the Swedish Society (the case of the Somali Community in Gothenburg)
Abstract: Culture integration implies culture change on the part of the refugees as well as the native population. This change is inclusive of learning thoughts, experiences and patterns of behavior of the native population on the part of the refugees. The periods of transformation constituting this change present varying processes and dynamics. It is against this background that the researcher found it necessary to explore the processes and dynamics to culture integration into the Swedish Society. Focus was put on the Somali refugee community within Gothenburg city. In this manner constituent parts of the pathway to refugee integration specific to the Somali community were unearthed.This was a qualitative study, the researcher used a descriptive multiple case study research design. The design was descriptive in nature so as to enable the exploration of the culture integration process and associated dynamics and thus questions relating to how and what constitutes this process were answered. The design also took multiple case approach so as to explore the difference within and between cases. The research subjects were first generation refugees from Somalia who had lived in Sweden for at least five years. Semi structured interviews were held with the research subjects and these were processed and analyzed through qualitative means of coding and thematic development.The respondents described the Swedish culture as one that was wholly different from their own. From the study results, the breakthrough to learning the Swedish culture was associated with learning the Swedish language. It was reported that learning the language facilitates interaction with the native population which further enables the learning and acceptance of other elements of the culture. The respondents reported various aspects of the Swedish culture that they do relate to; consequently those that they do not relate to were reported. This information represented the period of transformation within the respondents life highlighting aspects of culture adaptation and culture shedding. A continuum of experiences were shared with regard to culture integration processes, concerns were raised on the structuring of the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) program, issues of residential segregation were aired out, and also the negative construction of Somali people was raised. With regard to culture position of the respondents, positive and negative concerns were raised with regard to membership and acceptance within the Swedish society. On positive note the respondents had received Swedish citizenship, had reunified with family, had social relationships with the natives and also could practice the Muslim faith. On the contrary refugee acceptance and membership to society was in doubt because of the discriminatory tendencies, hardship in using own language and non acceptance of Somali dress codes thus concerns of mutual accommodation were raised.
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