Readiness or resistance? Newly arrived adult migrants' experiences, meaning making, and learning in Sweden

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: This thesis is about newly arrived adult migrants’ meaning making and learning in Swedish society during the two years’ introduction period, after they have received the residence permit. I have specifically studied Arabic speaking adults’ meaning making and learning, by carrying out observations and individual in-depth interviews with 12 migrants. The introduction period consists mainly of three so called introduction measures; the civic orientation course, Swedish for immigrants (SFI), and different work related activities, such as internship at different work places.The results show that etablering is about shaping the newly arrived adult migrants into ”good” citizens, through the introduction measures, among other things in the civic orientation course, which is regulated through the policy documents, and which so to say provides meaning to the newly arrived. The “good” citizen has some specific characteristics, which, roughly, are that he or she is independent (and advocates individuality), free, equality thinking, secularized, law-abiding (which includes being honest), responsible, and a “good” parent. These characteristics are expressed in different ways in the civic orientation course, for instance through the course material. The Swedish society is described as something desirable, and different from what is implied to be ”Arabic” values and ways of thinking. The idea of the “good” citizen appears to aim at constructing the adult migrants’ (and their families’) identity, something which many of the study’s respondents make a resistance to.As concerns the migrant’s new experiences, it is, for example, those which the migrant get through the contact with the Swedish Public Employment Service (SPES) that affect the meaning making in the new society. The meaning which most of the respondents have made of the SPES’s measures for them is that this authority only offers “prepackaged” solutions, and does not provide the help or support that they need. Also the experiences which the migrant has in the civic orientation course, and the meaning which ”old” migrants give to him or her, play a role when he or she makes meaning of Sweden and Swedes, and of his or her new life situation. Further, it has been shown that it is those experiences that the adult individual has been socialized through, and those which he or she has gained through work or education in his or her country of origin, which affect his or her meaning making in Sweden. It is mostly values which concern child upbringing and religion that lead to a certain understanding and construction of one’s new life. These values, when related to the values which are included in the ”good” citizen idea, also lead to either a resistance or a readiness towards the meaning giving that is embedded in the ”good” citizen notion.

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