Authors: Lena Grip*, Karlstad University
Topics: Migration, Immigration/Transnationalism, Gender
Keywords: immigrant integration, national space, local place, Sweden, production of space
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
In Sweden, the system for the establishment of immigrants receiving residence permit is centralized to national level. However, local and regional authorities, as well as NGOs, are important for implementing integration on a local level. Even more so since immigrants themselves have identified belonging as the “ultimate mark” of integration. The place, people in the neighborhood and local practice therefore become as important as practical resources provided. This presentation contributes to discussions on how integration is produced as a part of redefining national policy to local everyday practice, and what this tells us about the society in which the policy and practice are formed. The study shows that there is an unclear perception of what integration policies should achieve – who should be integrated and what the objectives of the policy are. The national definition of integration has locally partly been redefined. Integration is in this presentation a way to understand imagined social communities, how they are produced and who is considered to belong and who is not. Interviews with immigrants, local politicians and officials in small and medium-sized Swedish cities give insights into both what taken-for-granted assumptions the integration policy builds on and reproduces, and what consequences the integration practices have for the persons the policy is intended for. Stereotyped perceptions about immigrant women and men are shown to be important factors in how local integration policies and practices are formed, which also forms the image of the receiving society and the Swedish society at large.