Med främmande bagage : Tankar och erfarenheter hos unga människor med ursprung i en annan kultur eller Det postmoderna främlingskapet

Sammanfattning: The present study is based on interviews with 22 youth and young adults. The perspective is phenomenological, since my aim has been to analyse and describe the everyday world as it presents itself to these young people. A process begins in the encounter with the majority culture and the emphasis is on how they think about events and experiences along the road to a more complex life-world. The process of constructing reality that I have found in the narratives share some basic characteristics. The first is a reflexive interplay between the taken-for-granted and the strange. The second specific feature of the process is that the majority language usually is the second language. The third is that of changed relations and positions within the family. Contributing to this is the curtailed social network and the differences in knowledge about and capacity to speak the new language. Like language, social relations are a tool of paramount importance when moving around in the space of intersubjectivity, which together with continuity and consciousness make up the fourth feature. While the first feature deals with what initiates the thinking process, this fourth feature analyses the thinking itself. Intersubjectivity can be radical or egological. The radical one is direct and non-reflective. When people are not in command of each other’s languages and/or do not immediately understand the meaning of the situation, there is more need for reflection and planning which is what characterises the egological intersubjectivity. I believe that the egological aspects weigh more heavily in the encounter between people with different cultural backgrounds. There is a universal human striving for a certain minimum order in life; to connect new information with what one already knows and thus achieve continuity and coherence. The confrontation with a different order causes us to observe, compare, evaluate and seek explanations. This produces a heightened awareness about the different orders. It also means an active relation or approach to culture, which makes up the fifth special feature. I believe there are certain parallels between the situation experienced in the encounter with the new society and the one we all experience in the postmodern society, which is characterised by reflexivity. This implies that we constantly are confronted with new phenomena. Another defining characteristic is ambiguity, which is also connected with growing up with more than one culture. I therefore believe that the ability to deal with more than one culture can be an asset in dealing with postmodern issues in general. These young people seem to share an awareness that things can be done and life lived in different ways without having a need to ranking one as better than the other. To them the interplay between the taken-for-granted and the strange seems to be the very stuff that coherence in life is made of.

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