Somali-Swedish Girls - The Construction of Childhood within Local and Transnational Spaces

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Department of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University

Sammanfattning: This thesis explores diaspora experiences among Somali-Swedish parents and their daughters where the girls are enrolled in a Muslim-profiled school. The thesis uses migration theory with a transnational perspective, with findings that depart from the traditional view of migrants’ rootedness in a single country. It adopts the new paradigm for the sociology of childhood, where childhood is regarded as a social construction and children are considered to possess agency and competence. Anthony Giddens’s structuration theory and its main concept ‘duality of structure’ was employed as a theoretical tool. Methods that were used were participant observation, interviews (individual and in group) and analysis of essays.The thesis consists of three studies. The first study explores how Somali-Swedish parents explain their choice of a Muslim-profiled school for their children. The results refute the traditional view that such choices are solely faith-based, showing faith as important but not determining. Important factors were finding a school that met their high educational ambitions and  made both parents and children feel trusted, safe and not disrespected because of their faith and skin-colour.The second study explores transnational experiences, particularly the transfer of transnational practices from the Somali-Swedish parents’ to their children and the construction of a transnational social space, built on close global relationships. The results show that transnational practices are feasible irrespective of physical travel. The study also exemplifies the group’s readiness to relocate between countries by the onward migration from Sweden to Egypt, and implications for the children are illuminated. Somalis in diaspora often explain their propensity to move by their past nomadic life-patterns, but this study shows as strong factors the desire for better opportunities in combination with experiences of cultural and economic marginalisation in the West.The third study analyses how girls in grade 5 (about eleven years old) imagine their future career and family life by analysing essays. The findings reveal that their dreams are both consistent with the expectations of their families (in particular, high educational ambitions) and inspired from elsewhere (particularly in terms of future family life). How the girls imagine their adulthood could be seen as an example of how their original culture is subject to change in a new environment.