Multiculturalism: Swedish Experience

The appearance of multi-religiosity and multiculturalism coincides in Swedish history, and dates back to the second half of the 20th century....

Multiculturalism: Swedish Experience

Hafsa Orhan Astrom / World Bulletin

This second article in regard to multiculturalism will focus on the Swedish experience. It can be reminded here that the previous article dealt with the Ottoman experience. It should first be made clear that throughout the middle and new ages, Sweden did not have a similar experience as Ottomans did, in terms of hosting a multi-religious society.

To give an example, Jews and Muslims got the right of being in Sweden without abandoning their religious services at the beginning of 1700’s. However, such a right was limited since it did not cover the right of living wherever these people wanted or whatever position they wanted to be at. Also, the number of the so-called Jews and Muslims was miniscule. The appearance of multi-religiosity and multiculturalism coincides in Swedish history, and dates back to the second half of the 20th century.

Structure of the multiculturalism in Sweden

The most distinct character of Swedish multiculturalism which started to flourish after the Second World War is its incumbent structure which depends mostly on external factors. The booming industry in Sweden necessitated extra labor force whose first wave was mostly coming from Finland.

Apart from the discussions whether the culture of Finnish people is different or not, with the rapid transformation of Swedish economy from industrial to high technology production, such a necessity became null. Since 1980’s, the existence of different cultures in Swedish society heavily depends on the immigration originating from socio-political reasons.

‘Multikulturalism’ and ‘mångkultur’

The pressure of immigration on one hand and relatively tolerant immigration policies on the other hand led to the existence of different cultures in Sweden. Today, around 15% of Swedish population were born outside of the country. If one looks at the country of origin of the people who were born outside of Sweden, two main conclusions can be drawn: first, as of 2012, more than 200 countries are represented as country of origin. Second, there is no homogeneity among the country of origins, meaning that these 200 countries do not conglomerate heavily on a single region. Such an immense existence of different cultures inevitably puts the issue of multiculturalism on the agenda.

There are two different terms used in that regard: ‘Multikulturalism’ and ‘Mångkultur’. In my opinion, the distinction between these terms would shed light on the discussions regarding to multiculturalism in Sweden. According to researcher Heinö, ‘multikulturalism’ is a state policy whereas ‘mångkultur’ refers to societal experience. Based on these descriptions, Heinö argues that Sweden has never had a society with ‘mångkultur’. Instead, Sweden became a relatively homogeneous society with a strong welfare state which welcomes a big amount of immigrant population.

According to him, there can be two alternatives to modern multiculturalist state policy: U.S. type of multiculturalism or historical experiences from Europe, like Constantinople. By following a similar distinction between aforementioned terms, Nathan Shachar -who was quoted in our writing titled as ‘Sweden’s Migration Policy’- uses the word ‘mångkultur’ for the Ottoman experience meanwhile he prefers ‘multikulturalism’ for the Swedish experience.

Overall evaluation

When we consider the previous article and this one together, I would like to make the following remarks: one of the biggest differences between the Ottoman type multiculturalism and Swedish one is the spontaneity and genuineness of the former one. The Swedish case, on the other hand, has been depending on the multiculturalist idea and state policies revealing a duress character which creates more and more uneasiness. In that regard, Heinö’s suggestion of Constantinople as an alternative multiculturalist idea is remarkable, especially if the author refers to Ottomans.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Aralık 2013, 10:24
Gary John
Gary John - 10 yıl Önce

Most rapes in Sweden are non-White on White.How is that a strength?