Social interaction and identification among adolescents in multilingual suburban Sweden : A study of institutional order and sociocultural change

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Centrum för tvåspråkighetsforskning

Sammanfattning: This thesis is based on an ethnographic fieldwork among a group of adolescents in and out of school in suburban Sweden. The adolescents share the diasporic experience of living outside of the countries or nations of origin, experiencing marginalization in relation to majority society and concurrently being part of global, national and local transformations and changes. Their voices, of the margin and the center, in relation to traditional institutional order and sociocultural change respectively, are described, interpreted and partly explained in the thesis. A number of strategic positionings, allegiances and identifications are identified. The adolescents are positioned and collectively position themselves and each other in everyday social interaction. They manifest allegiances and identifications based on their diverse experiences and beliefs in the benefits of being multilinguals and having experiences in more than one, and across, cultural and national networks. Together the adolescents challenge stigmas and stereotypes related to language, culture and education and struggle to legitimize themselves and escape marginalization. They also exploit their own and each other’s experiences, backgrounds and knowledge for their individual and collective purposes. Besides these dominating counter-discourses, most commonly manifested in peer group interaction and in formal classroom interaction with teachers, the adolescents’ individual accounts give evidence of more submissive attitudes and responses, characterized by ambivalence and compliance. The study is an illustration of how structures of domination and discrimination are contested but also reestablish themselves on the micro-level of speech. It uncovers connections between the micro-level of face-to-face verbal interaction and the macrolevel of institutional order and sociocultural change. It also indicates that social actors are not simply subjected to static relations of power but on the contrary are most active in making transformations and changes come true. Pointing in the direction of a linkage between social order and interactional order and at the role of contestation and opposition in social process, the present work constitutes a contribution to empirical and theoretical developments in sociolinguistics. Further insights are provided both into the established traditional social order and the reformulations of it in the course of late modernity.

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