The Art of Becoming 'Swedish'
The article "The art of becoming 'Swedish': Immigrant youth, school careers and life plans" by Thomas Johansson and Rita Olofsson was published in the journal Ethnicities in June 2011 11:184-201.
When discussing barriers to integration, we often focus on language skills, cultural capital, supportive environments and other more obvious, distinct and material aspects that have an impact on educational achievement. In the present study, we have instead chosen to look at how young immigrants construct their life plans, and how this relates to their perceptions of ethnicity, neighbourhood and identity. The sample used here consists of a total of 10 individuals. The interviews were used to explore certain designated dimensions and processes. All interviews were conducted in the school environment, in classrooms and other locations within the school. The students attended two different vocationally oriented study programmes: one focused on health promotion, the other on pre-school children. A narrative—sociological approach is used in the analysis. The young people’s perceptions and narratives are analysed in relation to concepts such as: territorial stigmatization, identity, inclusion/exclusion and life plans. The key finding is that these young people try to adapt to certain normative expectations connected to the notion of Swedishness. Being ‘in sync’ with this normative conception leads to self-confidence, whereas being ‘out-of-sync’ leads to low self-esteem.