Civic orientation for newly arrived adult migrants in a Swedish context. Exploring categorisations, norms and values in steering documents and teaching materials.

Year: 2019

Author: Carlson, Marie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Different social models for integration and citizenship are increasingly discussed in Europe.Discussions in research and political organizations can be seen as a consequence of the decline in variations of “multicultural” models that were fundamental to integration policy in Sweden, as well as in other European states. Among other things, there is an increasing demand for participation in education such as language courses and courses on civic orientation. This applies also to Sweden where a new regulation was added 2010 and civic orientation courses for newly arrived migrants were introduced. Each municipality is required to organize and offer newly arrived migrants civic orientation; courses described by organizers to “give keys to Swedish society”. A textbook, “About Sweden”, is composed for the courses. In a new interdisciplinary research project we will critically investigate this civic education through a policy ethnographic study. The civic orientation will be explored at three different societal levels: a policy and organizational level, an institutional education level and a participants’ individual level with stories of experiences from the program. In this contribution results will be presented from analysis of the texbook and other teaching materials as well as national policy documents. A narrative and discursive approach has been used. A particular interest has been paid towards on how the migrant subjects are constructed in relation e.g. gender, ethnicity and social mobility. Questions have been asked: what characteristics, abilities and positions are the migrants expected to adapt to and occupy to become “good” citizens? And how is the image of the migrant/citizen (re)constructed, interpreted and negotiated within the policy documents and the textbook and teaching materials?

The analysis shows how discourses on gender and class intersecting with culture and ethnicity can be distinguished throughout the material and how the (re)constructions of the migrant and the “Swede” are played out together with fostering attitudes. In particular, an ethnocentric and ideological discourse is linked to “Swedish” norms and values.Perceptions of the traditional and culturally bound immigrants are strongly emphasised in dominant discourses. The case of civic orientation for migrants in a Swedish context can be seen as both disciplinary and mobilizing. A critical and reflective perspective is lacking in the policy documents as well as in the textbook “About Sweden” especially as regards the “social problem of integration”. The responsibility is laid over largely on the individual, who is expected to present him/herself in a enterpreunial spirit.