”Mä oon niinko… ruotsinsuomalainen” ”Jag är liksom... sverigefinsk” : Om sverigefinska barns identitetssarbete
Sammanfattning: This master thesis is a study on identity construction of a group of 9-14 year old children with Finnish origin in Sweden. In 2000 Sweden granted a special status of a national minority to five indigenous minorities, of which the Sweden-Finns are one, by ratifying European council’s framework convention for protection of national minorities. The status was further strengthened in 2010 with law 2009:724 giving Sweden’s five national minorities right to preserve and promote their own cultures and languages considered to be endangered due to centuries-long marginalisation, discrimination and forced assimilation to the Swedish society. The law emphasises particularly children’s right to a cultural identity and the minority language. Majority of the Sweden-Finnish children today are second or third generation decendants of the large group of work-related immigrants who migrated from Finland to Sweden during the 1960s-70s. Due to various socio-political reasons, the Sweden-Finns have assimilated culturally and linguistically to the Swedish society and children are predominantly Swedish-speaking. The theoretical framework in this thesis is a constructionist view on identity and ethnicity as ever-changing and in a constant process of being reproduced. There is an aspect of hybridity in identity; one person can have different identities during his or her lifetime. By using qualitative group interviews as a research method this thesis studies how a group of eleven Sweden-Finnish children relates to and identifies with “Finnishness” or “Sweden-Finnishness”. The study focuses on how these identity categories are reproduced by children and how they are used to mark and symbolise different aspects of the children’s identities. According to the sociology of childhood, children are seen as active social actors. Therefore this thesis presents a child’s perspective and it is the children’s own stories, opinions and insights to identity construction that form the basis to the analysis. The conclusion drawn is that the Sweden-Finnishness is constructed through children’s relations to Finland and how they relate to their Finnish origin even though their lives are preconditioned in a Swedish-speaking environment. Children describe Sweden-Finnishness as a relatively new identity category that is still under construction but a majority identify themselves as Sweden-Finns for their lives are in Sweden. Children have a limited access to other Finnish-speaking children and children’s cultures outside the group meetings where the interviews were conducted and Finnish language is mostly used with the Finnish-speaking parent or more seldom with relatives. The children consider their bilingualism as an advantage but the limited contacts to Finnish-speaking friends and the dominance of Swedish, and increasingly English, through social media in their daily lives decreases the possibilities to use Finnish in social relations.
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