Learning to Live in a New Country – Everyday Social Integration

Civil Society and Integration – Nordic Rural Perspective

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Available online: https://pub.norden.org/nord2020-036/ Abstract [en]: In this paper we focus on three of the main ways civil society can play a role in the integration of refugees and immigrants. The leading question we seek to answer is as follows. Are the ways in which civil society engages different in rural areas and in smaller communities around the Nordic Region, as compared with urban areas and large cities? We use evidence from interviews and transcripts with migration workers as our starting point. We then focus on the role of a) religious communities and aid organisations, b) sport organisations and clubs, c) pop-up activism and mentorship programmes from available literature and from Nordic seminars and dialogue. We will also focus on partnerships and forms of coordination between civil society organisations, municipalities and regions.



The importance of social networks and social interactions

The tradition of association life (föreningsliv) is strong in many areas of the Nordic countries, but the activities and possibilities arising from this do not always reach out to newcomers. Common forums such as the local choir, golf buddies, book clubs, women’s knitting clubs, or participation in courses offered at public adult education centres are crucial social gatherings. They serve the purpose of securing social cohesion in communities around the Nordics. However, this may be felt to be something of a cool embrace for newcomers. Those newly arrived are often unfamiliar with what cultural associations are present, and may be equally unaware of how to look for information about the existing options. Also, even if appropriate information is received, there may be other obstacles – such as cost and access to equipment or materials, as well as transport (Bäfvenberg, 2015:12).


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