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'I don’t think you will understand me because really, I believe' – Unaccompanied female minors re-negotiating religion
Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. IMPROVE (Improvement, innovation, and leadership in health and welfare). Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. SALVE (Social challenges, Actors, Living conditions, reseach VEnue).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9576-7519
Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Social Work. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. SALVE (Social challenges, Actors, Living conditions, reseach VEnue).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7341-945X
Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Social Work. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. ARN-J (Aging Research Network - Jönköping).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3916-2977
2019 (English)In: Qualitative Social Work, ISSN 1473-3250, E-ISSN 1741-3117Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The role of religion in migration has been a contested subject in previous research and social work practice, with religion being considered both a bridge and a barrier to integration. When considering unaccompanied female minors, struggling to be recognised beyond the prevailing image of the victimised refugee girl, religion is sometimes seen as a force of oppression rather than a tool for integration. In this article, we focus on the embodied practices of young women?s lived religion in a context where such practices are constructed as otherness. Based on an interview study with 11 unaccompanied female minors, this article explores the identity negotiations that emerged when migrating from societies where religion plays an integral part in everyday life to a society with highly secular values. By using the concept of (oppositional) gaze, we explore how these young women negotiate their identities at a point where the normative, invisible gaze meets the embodied practices of lived religion. We demonstrate how these young women are themselves agents of their own faith, and we confirm previous research that points to religion as a support structure for unaccompanied minors; however, not without causing friction in their new society. The study shows how lived practices of religion and the development of an oppositional gaze can function as mutually reinforcing processes in identity negotiation. In social work, understanding the role of religion through lived practices might contribute to a more holistic approach when creating solutions for young people experiencing turbulent circumstances of arriving in a new country.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2019.
Keywords [en]
Gender, refugees, migration, faith
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-43761DOI: 10.1177/1473325019848481Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85067686495OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-43761DiVA, id: diva2:1317508
Available from: 2019-05-23 Created: 2019-05-23 Last updated: 2019-08-09
In thesis
1. From a place without speech: negotiations of othering among unaccompanied female minors in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From a place without speech: negotiations of othering among unaccompanied female minors in Sweden
2019 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The study presented in this thesis focuses on unaccompanied female minors and their experiences as newly arrived migrants in Sweden. As a group, unaccompanied female minors have until recently been rather invisible in both academic research and media. However, according to previous research on migration and integration, they risk being constructed as ‘others’ both due to their status as unaccompanied minors, being female and in relation to general perceptions of what it means to be Swedish.

This study is based on qualitative interviews with 11 girls, 13 to 18 years old, who arrived in Sweden as unaccompanied minors in the period between 2014 and 2017. The interviews were conducted in two phases, with nine months to one year between the first and second phases. Whereas the focus in the first phase was on getting to know the participants, the second phase provided an opportunity to delve deeper into discussions on recurring themes from the first phase. The interviews were transcribed using a denaturalised approach and thematically analysed through an abductive process.

The thesis explores the girls’ narratives of everyday experiences and interprets them through a theoretical framework of othering. Without losing sight of the social structures that situates the girls’ experiences, othering is approached as a reciprocal, three-dimensional relationship, focusing on knowledge, values and conduct towards the other.

The findings indicate that the girls participating in this study were often seen through the normative perception of an already othered context, and as a consequence, their own voices and agency were disregarded. They were, metaphorically, put in places without speech. However, by engaging a critical perspective on their everyday interactions, the girls were also able to recognise and resist othering by keeping true to their own experiences. The thesis concludes that by exploring the margins between their comfort zones and new contexts the girls engage in an epistemic merging of different horizons, which can be understood as a slow but insistent process of moving out from the place without speech.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, 2019. p. 71
Series
Hälsohögskolans avhandlingsserie, ISSN 1654-3602 ; 101
Keywords
unaccompanied minors, migration, gender, youth
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-45513 (URN)978-91-88669-00-1 (ISBN)
Presentation
2019-08-16, Forum Humanum, Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-08-09 Created: 2019-08-09 Last updated: 2019-08-28Bibliographically approved

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Ekström, ElinBülow, Pia H.Wilińska, Monika

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