Swedish integration policy documents: a close dialogic reading

H. Thomas R. Persson

Forskningsoutput: Typer av avhandlingarDoktorsavhandling


Sweden as the great welfare state where everybody is equally welcomed and cared forhas for long been the prevailing view. Although Swedish integration policy seems toconfirm this view, this is far removed from many people's experienced reality. I argue that part of this disharmony lies in how West European languages contain and relate toan `identity' construction, which perpetuates and is perpetuated through dichotomies that strengthen the social and political cogency of concepts such as `race', ethnicity and culture. Based on this, I carry out a discourse analysis of Sweden's major integration policy documents from the mid 1970s up to today. After an eclectic reading of discourses on migration and integration terminology,`identity' and language, I assert the centrality of `identity' construction to everything wedo. With this in mind, taking the dialogism promoted by the Bakhtinian Circle as thedichotomy to monologism, I carry out a close dialogic reading in the tradition of LynnPearce (1994) and Peter Stallybrass and Allon White (1986). Contextualizing the policy documents, I present the history of migration and integrationfrom a Swedish perspective. Focusing on the last five decades, I divide the different historic tendencies into themes ranging from: emigration to labour migration, refugee migration and the European Union, and from immigrant policy to integration policy. Believing that the conceptualisation and the handling of categorisation, segregation,culture, discrimination and racism are all central to a successful integration policy, Ianalyse the policy documents thematically accordingly. I show how the interdependenceof the common `identity' constructions and language sometimes obscures and frequentlycounteracts the intention of the author. As a result, I argue that the Bakhtinian Circle holds the key to a better understanding of the invincibility of stereotyping withinracialized discourses, through applying absolute `identity' constructions in monologic speech, and how this may be counteracted in order to strive for a dialogic approach to the world.

  • Anwar, M, Handledare, Extern person
  • Carter, B, Handledare, Extern person
StatusPublicerad - 2006
Externt publiceradJa

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