Law and Social Exclusion : The functions and dysfunctions of the Swedish legal system in light of overindebtedness among immigrants

Sammanfattning: In terms of its total population, Sweden is one of the countries with the highest proportion of immigrants in the EU. Several factors are critical in integrating immigrants, especially their economic security in a new country. This thesis examines the relationship between law enforcement and economic security for over- indebted immigrants. The primary purpose of this research is to explore the relationship between migration and debt enforcement governed by legal regulations.A mixed methods sequential explanatory design approach was used to obtain a comprehensive picture of these complex issues. A quantitative study integrating the Swedish Enforcement Authority database with background variables provided by Statistics Sweden is the basis of the thesis. A qualitative interview study was then carried out to provide insights into the participants’ perspectives. An administrative model was used to define and measure over-indebtedness.The foundation of this thesis is Robert K. Merton’s functionalist theory of manifest and latent functions and dysfunctions. The concept of legal culture complements this theoretical framework. The findings show that there is a high prevalence of over-indebtedness among immigrants in Sweden, clearly indicating that the policy to prevent over-indebtedness is ineffective. Individuals with low socioeconomic status are more likely to be over-indebted.The qualitative results indicate that other factors, such as the debtors’ lack of a Swedish legal culture (e.g., legal consciousness and literacy), negatively affect the degree of over-indebtedness. In the end, over- indebtedness and subsequent payment defaults can lead to financial and social exclusion. This, in turn, contributes to segregation. According to over-indebted immigrants in Sweden in general, the current law enforcement strategies are dysfunctional and contribute to debtorisation, which is a process of exclusion that adversely impacts individual economic security.

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