Breaking social and cultural borders : A study on immigrant social integration and intercultural appreciation in Gävle, Sweden.

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för socialt arbete och psykologi

Abstract: Immigration has over the years been looked upon in many different ways: At times, as something positive, bringing in manpower and new influences, but at other times as something negative – something bringing problems along with it. I have for a long time been interested in social interaction in general, and when it was time for meto write my thesis, I decided to narrow that phenomenon down and write about the socialintegration of immigrants. Along with that came mechanisms promoting it as well as intercultural appreciation, this because it quite simply felt very relevant to the initial subject. The purpose of this thesis was to identify and discuss social integration for immigrants and the mechanisms promoting it, as well as to investigate intercultural appreciation in Gävle, Sweden. Two semi-structured focus-group interviews were conducted with both immigrants and nativeSwedes. Analysis was guided by grounded theory. It was found that both native and immigrant Swedes appreciate each other’s cultures, but also find parts of them disturbing. For example the immigrant participants found the Swedish literature very interesting, while the native Swedish participants were very appreciative and fascinated by all the different foods that have been introduced thanks to immigrants. However, the native Swedes found muslim traditions such as the burqha to be offensive, while the immigrants found the general Swedish attitude towards strangers to be just the same. The mechanisms promoting integration were often seen as insufficient by the immigrant participants, but those that did exist, for example SFI, was very much appreciated and seen as a very important source for getting help with the Swedish language, thus integrating oneself. The study suggests more research on the subjects of both intercultural appreciation between “new” and “old” Swedes, as well as on the different mechanisms for social integration for immigrants, investigating its actual impact.

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