A liveable life after being granted asylum in Sweden: the interconnections of flight and aspirations for social mobility among young Palestinian males
Nina Gren (Lund University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses some young male Palestinian refugees in Sweden. They were enrolled in a state-run integration program, but they felt it was a waste of time. They wanted to continue their education. They even felt that the power of Swedish bureaucracy constrained rather than supported their aspirations.
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses the accounts of some young male Palestinian refugees in Sweden. They had applied and been accepted for political asylum for slightly different reasons and had arrived from different parts of the Palestinian diasporic space. However, they had more in common than what divided them. At the time of fieldwork, they were enrolled in a state-run integration program, which included language courses, internships, state-subsidized employments and evaluations of degrees and of professional experiences. But a liveable life for my interlocutors was not just about safety, work and political rights such as asylum, democracy and future citizenship. They all wanted to continue their higher education and secure a good social position. Their political reasons to flee were interconnected with an imaginary of (social) mobility (Appadurai 1991; Salazar 2011). In their eyes, being enrolled in the integration program, coordinated by the Swedish Public Employment Service, was not a useful way to reach this goal. On the contrary, they felt that the power of Swedish bureaucracy and individual bureaucrats was unpredictable and constrained rather than supported their aspirations. There was a sense of meaningless-ness and frustration to their lives in Sweden. The individuals I involved in my study understood and reacted to these constraints in different ways. In this paper, I will discuss the strategies my interlocutors employed when trying to understand, endure, avoid and/or tame the "Swedish System" and to regain power over their lives with inspiration from Jackson's writings on existential well-being (2011).
Navigating migration and asylum regimes