Etnicitet, ungdom och socialt arbete : En analys av kulturbegreppet i ett komplext och kluvet forskningsfält

Författare: Greta Sandberg; Linnéuniversitetet; []

Nyckelord: ;

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to present, describe, and analyze scientific and official Swedish discourses that deal with social work with ethnic minority youth. The empirical analysis is built on an analysis of different texts such as scientific articles, public reports, teaching materials from 1960-2005 about social work with ethnic minority youth and describes the development of different perspectives on ethnicity and culture that have dominated social work debates. A very common and popular discourse both in research and in official contexts is that social problems are explained by cultural background when it comes to ethnic minority youth whereas the same problem among young people with “Swedish” background is explained by social or psychological aspects. This is an analytical framework that has been dominant in social work discourse from the 1960s forward, yet which is seldom explored and problematized in empirical studies. One of the main findings/arguments is that culture is an important key term used in both ”constructing”, explaining, and solving social problems in relation to ethnic minority youth. The most dominant theoretical approach in discussions of ethnic minority youth’s identity formations is a culturalist perspective often referred to as “the second generation problem”. This is a perspective that is built on an essential and static understanding of culture and a theoretical approach I call the cultural distance logic. Another finding in the material analyzed is that different questions are focused on and explained differently during different time periods. Further, this also means that methods and suggestions with how to develop social work with people with minority background, has also changed during the time period studied. The texts analyzed are contextualized in relation to debates and politics over immigration. For example, in the early 1960 an evolutionary understanding of culture dominated (with Swedish culture as modern and desired) and assimilation was proposed as an ideal. Whereas during the 1970s a more multiculturalists and in many ways more egalitarian understanding of culture dominated and social workers focused on ways to help children with ethnic minority background keep contact with their culture of origin. One of the outcomes of this perspective in the texts analyzed is that people/youth with ethnic minority background were now described as a representation of a nation and the method of ‘cultural competence’ was equated with solely having an ethnic minority background. Later on, in the 1980s- 1990s culture again becomes something problematic and connected to lack of adaption. During this time we can see how social problems are understood within the framework of there being ‘big differences’ between “Swedes” and “immigrants”, and that these factors are central in explaining social problems. In the 1990s the relevance of culture has been questioned and a big theoretical controversy can in recent years be seen in how to discuss ethnic minority youth and social work. Are social problems to be explained by culture only or is it the structures in society, such as socio-economic inequalities and discrimination? These debates are “old” but now crystallized in the discussion of honor related violence. This is a discussion that places the immigrant family in problematic light and they are portrayed sometimes as a salvation and sometimes the destroyer of the possibility for young people with ethnic minority background to become “real Swedes”. Keywords: young people with ethnic minority background, social work, culture, ethnicity, discrimination.