Paper short abstract:
The paper focuses on the interaction between political institutions and ethnic associations in a local community in Sweden in examining the production and implementation of an ethnic integration policy and exploring how national and local policies are transformed into concrete guidelines and resources are negotiated.
Paper long abstract:
Integration policy and ethnic associations
In Sweden, a particular domain of policy making has been generated by the existence of popular movements (folkrörelser). These movements have had an important role in the development of the welfare state and are surrounded by an ideology that praises their role as a democratic force in Swedish society. The ideology embraces normative ideals, and associations are seen as schools for democracy where people can learn governance and develop democratic sensibilities. They are believed to give politically under-represented people opportunities for political participation. Not least in Swedish policy for ethnic integration, there is a strong faith in the benefits of active ethnic associations. Therefore national and local authorities give subsidies to ethnic organisations not only in order to support their social work but also as means to fulfilling political goals for ethnic integration.
In this paper I focus on the interaction between political institutions and ethnic associations in a local community in Sweden in examining the production and implementation of an ethnic integration policy. I explore how national and local policies for integration are transformed into concrete guidelines and how power and resources are negotiated in mundane meetings and different activities. I address the following questions among others; How are the guidelines set in practice, materialised and imposed on associations? What takes place in meetings between bureaucrats and members of associations? How do both sides translate the political discourse and what self-regulating processes are taking place, shaping or restricting the agency of members as well as of bureaucrats. What happens when political governance intervenes in associations that have been built on life worlds, desires and needs of their members?
The discussion is based on fieldwork in one local community where I have conducted participant observation in organisations, observations at meetings, interviews with members of ethnic organisations, politicians and bureaucrats, and collected national and local policy documents.