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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Jantelagen and Multiculturalism: a Dynamic Dual


The purpose of this thesis is to critically examine and uncover the limitations of multiculturalism as a policy of incorporation in Sweden. Although there is much to be gained from the introduction of diverse languages, religions and cultures, incorporation has been inadequate. While the perceptible differences between the host society and immigrants has presented a visual barrier to unity, I posit that the real impasses lie much deeper; that they are deeply correlated to the bureaucratic structure of the welfare state which has prolonged the process of integration, surpassing protectionary efforts and stifling the process altogether. By advocating a shared responsibility on behalf of the state and society to harbor the victims of global conflicts and disasters, the state has constructed a hierarchy between the ‘privileged’ Swedes and the ‘victims.’

The level of segregation in Sweden today is pervasive, penetrating the most fundamental demands of incorporation. Largely a result of a highly ambitious housing project, immigrants are overrepresented in government subsidized housing located in the periphery of major cities. Reflecting some of the most multicultural neighborhoods in the country, these districts have become traps of alienation through their embodiment of all that is perceived to be different and ‘foreign’ from Swedish culture, society and norms. For this reason, multiculturalism has been defined against Swedish society rather than within it, transforming multiculturalism from a policy of accommodation and toleration to a microcosm for Oriental perceptions of how to define the relationship between Swedes and immigrants.

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