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Citizenship as status, habitus and acts: Language requirements and civic orientation in Sweden

Culture and languages
Society and economy
Education and learning

Andrea Spehar, Tommaso Milani, Kerstin von Brömssen and Simon Bauer are going to present some research results from the ongoing multidisciplinary research project "Citizenship and democracy education for adult newly arrived migrants?" at this seminar.

12 May 2021
10:00 - 11:30
online seminar; please register to receive the meeting link before the seminar

Andrea Spehar; Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre on Global Migration (CGM), University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Tommaso Milani; Professor of Multilingualism, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Kerstin von Brömssen; Professor of Educational Science, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
Simon Bauer; Doctoral student and research assistant, Department of Swedish, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Centre on Global Migration (CGM)

The aim of this presentation is to present the ongoing multidisciplinary project Citizenship and democracy education for adult newly arrived migrants? financed by Vetenskapsrådet (Dnr 2018-04091)

More specifically, we want to present some research results from the project, which complicate the portrayal of Sweden as a prototypical example of ‘multicultural pluralist citizenship’ (Koopmans and Statham 1999, 661). To this end, the presentation relies on a methodologically multi-pronged approach that combines (1) a diachronic investigation of policy and media debates about Swedish language requirements for citizenship, and their connections with discussions about the importance of knowledge of civics for newly arrived migrants, and (2) ethnographic insights into the educational provision Civic Orientation for Newly Arrived Migrants (samhällsorientering). Drawing upon Isin’s (2008) model of citizenship as status, habitus and acts, we first illustrates how citizenship as status in Sweden has undergone a shift in relation to language, national values and norms over the last twenty years. The presentation then homes in on a particular Arabic-language course in civic orientation for newly arrived adult migrants in a large urban area, in order to illustrate how a group of migrants are being socialized into a specific habitus of Swedish values and norms, and to unveil the acts of resistance they perform in response. We argue that such a bi-focal lens on language and citizenship status in public debates, on the one hand, and on habitus and acts in an ongoing educational provision, on the other, offers a unique empirical vantage point from which to capture how sovereign power, disciplinary power and biopower (Foucault 1978) intersect in the context of Sweden’s current management of migration.