The perspectives and experiences of Somali immigrants to Sweden in relation to integration
Abstract: It is to be recalled that sucesfull social integration between the immigrants and the host community could have a positive impact on improving the development and resilience of society. It contributes to the advancement of sustainable development by creating better socio-economic interconnectedness, mutual trust & cultural tolerance. Sweden has been one of the most prominent examples with regard to refugee integration programs mostly because of its welfare traditions and generosity to the immigrants. Despite the massive effort from the government, however, nowadays, it seems that the integration strategy is facing many challenges at the implementation level. The objective of this study was to explore the experience and perception of Somali immigrants in Sweden with regard to the integration process. A qualitative research design was employed in this thesis and qualitative data were collected using semistructured individual interviews and focus group discussions. The study finds that the Somali immigrant’s perception of integration is influenced by many factors including to employment, education, social bonds, social bridges, social links and language etc. The main conclusion of this study indicates that many of the research respondents perceive the government integration program as assimilation rather than multiculturalism despite the official government policy approach, which is a multicultural-based integration. As a result, there was a general feeling of losing identity, culture, and religion among the respondents. The lack of social networks and friendliness among the host community, which could have been a prerequisite for better integration, appear to have a negative impact on the integration of Somalis into the mainstream society. Widespread unemployment, perceived discrimination, lack of educational background as well as social separation between the Somalis and the host, seems to challenge creating valuable social networks, which consequently resulted in difficulties in the path towards integration.
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