Accepted Paper:

Children and migration in Switzerland: coping with mutuality and diversity in Swiss schools  


Pascale Herzig (University of Fribourg)
Brigit Allenbach (Universität Fribourg, CH)
Monika Müller (Universität Fribourg, CH)

Paper short abstract:

The paper aims to analyse focus group discussions with Swiss and migrant children and youths in schools in Switzerland. The data illustrates the participants' strategies to cope with mutuality and diversity.

Paper long abstract:

Switzerland experiences very high rates of immigration, which subsequently becomes visible in public schools. The intersectionality of ethnicity with other categories of difference is obvious. The data, collected in focus group discussions with nine to sixteen years old school children and youths give ground for a broad range of constructions into insiders and outsiders. In the discussions with Swiss and migrant children/youths the following questions arose: Who is ascribed to be a foreigner in Switzerland? Which national or ethnic categories do count? How can ascriptions of inside or outside be maintained in schools as an "arena of agency"? What is about the gender stereotypes within the category of Muslims: are all boys violent and all girls victims? And who is a "true" Muslim at all? Is it different to live as a Hindu in an urban or in a rural area? The composition of the group in terms of heterogeneity seems to be crucial for the participants' strategies to build alliances and to deal with dominance or subordination.

In order to get a better understanding of the processes and experiences as lived by the children we propose to conceptualise the various categories of difference and their intersections. Given the increasing significance of identity politics in the public domain, it could be the task of social science research to highlight the multiple dimensions of belonging of children and youths. This perspective will help to prevent rush measures that consider only one notion of difference such as religion, ethnicity or gender.

Panel W076
Children and migration in Europe: between new citizenships and transnational families