Citizenship and democracy education for adult newly arrived migrants?

Research project
Active research
Project size
5 899 111
Project period
2019 - 2022
Project owner
Department of Swedish, Multilingualism, Language Technology

Short description

The overall purpose of the project is to investigate how “civic orientation for newly arrived migrants” is interpreted, implemented and discursively negotiated in three parallel field studies in three metropolitan municipalities.

Project description

Purpose and goals

The overall purpose of the project is to investigate how “civic orientation for newly arrived migrants” is interpreted, implemented and discursively negotiated in three parallel field studies in three metropolitan municipalities. Civic orientation for adult newly arrived migrants is an educational initiative that each municipality is required to arrange and provide in their introduction programmes. After the official government report entitled Sverige för nyanlända – Värden, välfärdsstat, vardagsliv (SOU 2010:16) [Sweden for newly arrived migrants – Values, welfare state, everyday life] was published, civic orientation courses became more homogenized and standardized nationally (SFS 2010:1138). More specifically, our project intends to answer the following questions:

  1. What dominant understandings of civic orientation are being expressed through policy and organisation?
  2. What dominant perspectives, social and cultural values, and norms are apparent in institutional educational practice, and how are these values and norms understood and negotiated between course participants and various actors?
  3. How are newly arrived migrants positioned in the course – through everyday storytelling in the social interactions within the course and in policy documents and text-based teaching materials?
  4. What experiences and reflections do previous participants highlight in their stories about having participated in the course?

Through our multidisciplinary project team (education, sociology, linguistics, political science), we aim to jointly answer these questions by studying “civic orientation for newly arrived immigrants” at three societal levels: a policy and organisation level, an institutional educational practice level, and at the participants’ individual and personal level with their stories about their experiences of the course. Through this three-pronged approach, we aim to study whether this course can be regarded as a form of citizenship and democracy fostering; a question which is particularly relevant to investigate in view of the growing debate in recent years on whether newly arrived immigrants should learn more about the values and norms that apply in Sweden. Theoretically, the project is based on a narrative and discursive approach combined with a branch of organisation theory, neo-institutionalism, where the implementation of policy is regarded as a kind of “translation” and social actors are perceived as being actively involved in the creation of a form of socio-political practice. With the aid of empirical data, the project will also contribute to theory building concerning the relationships between linguistic negotiation processes in education and policy related to integration and socio-cultural values and norms.


Milani Tommaso M., Bauer Simon, von Brömssen Kerstin & Spehar Andrea (2023) Participation on whose terms? Applied linguistics, politics and social justice. AFinLA Yearbook 80: 286-299.

Bauer Simon, Milani Tommaso M., von Brömssen Kerstin & Spehar Andrea (2023) Constructing the “good citizen”: Discourses of social inclusion in Swedish civic orientation. Social Inclusion 11(4): 121-131.

Bauer Simon, Milani Tommaso M., von Brömssen Kerstin & Spehar Andrea (2023) Gender equality in the name of the state: state feminism or femonationalism in civic orientation for newly arrived migrants in Sweden? Critical Discourse Studies.

Bauer Simon, von Brömssen Kerstin, Milani Tommaso M. & Spehar Andrea (2023). Locating Sweden in time and space: National chronotopes in civic orientation for adult migrants. Nordic Journal of Migration Research 13(1): 1-17

Milani Tommaso M., von Brömssen Kerstin, Carlson Marie & Spehar Andrea (2022) Civic orientation for adult migrants in Sweden - A multimodal critical discourse analysis of Swedish values and norms in the textbook About Sweden. I: Pia Nygård Larsson, Cecilia Olsson Jers, Magnus Persson (red.) Fjortonde nationella konferensen i svenska med didaktisk inriktning : Didaktiska perspektiv på språk och litteratur i en globaliserad värld, Malmö 18–19 november 2020. Malmö: Malmö universitet.

von Brömssen Kerstin, Milani Tommaso M., Spehar Andrea & Bauer Simon (2022) “Swedes’ relations to their government are based on trust”: Banal nationalism in civic orientation courses for newly arrived adult migrants in Sweden. Futures of Education, Culture and Nature 1(1): 71-88.

Milani Tommaso M., Bauer Simon, Carlson Marie, Spehar Andrea & von Brömssen Kerstin (2021) Citizenship as status, habitus and acts: Language requirements and civic orientation in Sweden. Citizenship Studies 25(6): 756-772. 

  • Tommaso Milani, Professor, Department of Swedish, multilingualism, language technology, University of Gothenburg
  • Marie Carlson, Senior Professor, Department of Swedish, multilingualism, language technology, and Professor Emerita, Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg
  • Andrea Spehar, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, and Director of the Centre on Global Migration (CGM), University of Gothenburg
  • Kerstin von Brömssen, Senior Professor, Division of Educational Science and Languages, University West
  • Simon Bauer, Doctoral Student, Department of Swedish, multilingualism, language technology, University of Gothenburg

  • Professor Mette Anderson (sociology, migration, ethnicity, globalisation), University of Oslo.
  • Professor Aysegül Altinay (social anthropology, education and gender, nationalism, feminist activism and social movements), Sabanci University, Gender Studies, Istanbul.
  • Associate Professor Sirpa Lappalainen (pedagogy, citizenship, nationality, gender), Nordic Center of Excellence: Justice through Education, Institute of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki.
  • Assistant Professor Ali Osman (integration practices, from education to work, transnational education and careers), Department of Education, Stockholm University
  • Associate Professor Karen Nielsen Breidahl, Aalborg University, Department of Political Science (migration, Scandinavian integration policies and value issues).
  • Principal Lecturer Claudia Schneider (migration, education, theory and method issues), School of Education & Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University, UK.
  • Professor Christopher Stroud (multilingualism, migration) University of the Western Cape/Stockholm University.