Negotiations of Immigrants’ Cultural Citizenship in Discussions Among Majority Members and Immigrants in Finland

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Abstract

In this paper we analyze how cultural citizenship is discursively constructed and negotiated in discussions about integration of immigrants among Finnish majority members and different immigrant groups in Finland. We found two distinct patterns of talking about rights and responsibilities of immigrants. In the first, conforming to mainstream culture was treated as the responsibility of immigrants and an ideal form of integration in Finland. Conversely, in the second, conformity as a norm was actively challenged while minority rights were emphasized. Both patterns were frequently found in the discussions with Finnish majority members, whereas argumentation in the immigrant groups typically drew from one of the patterns. While Estonian- and Russian-speaking immigrants often talked in favor of conformity to the mainstream, especially in the public sphere, Somali-speaking participants challenged and rejected such demands. Both patterns navigate the ideological dilemma around rights and responsibilities. Our findings suggest that both supporting conformity to the mainstream as well as challenging this norm may function as a way of becoming a citizen. Implications of the results for group relations and equal cultural citizenship are discussed.

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