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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Sweden

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 3 5 7


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and / or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   Yes.

Evidence:

  • The Swedish Constitution comprises four parts. One of them—the Instrument of Government—enshrines principles related to multiculturalism; these were adopted in 1974. Chapter 1, Article 3 of the Instrument of Government notes “The public institutions shall promote the opportunity for all to attain participation and equality in society. The public institutions shall combat discrimination of persons on grounds of gender, colour, national or ethnic origin, linguistic or religious affiliation, functional disability, sexual orientation, age or other circumstance affecting the private person. Opportunities should be promoted for ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities to preserve and develop a cultural and social life of their own.”
  • The 1975 Immigrant and Minority Policy granted further rights to newcomers and was based on the principles of equality, freedom of cultural choice and partnership (Soininen 1999). The policy’s objective was to ensure newcomers would be able to achieve the same standard of living as the native-born. In the 1990s, the discursive emphasis shifted more toward “self-sufficiency” and “individual responsibility,” but minorities’ rights remain protected in the constitution (ibid.).
  • An Integration Policy was adopted in 1997. It included provisions for an Ombudsman Against Ethnic Discrimination, as well as a study of immigrants’ and minorities’ participation and influence in society (Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications 2002). Although there is not a government ministry responsible for multiculturalism, per se, the Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality oversees issues related to integration and anti-discrimination. The ministry notes that “The goal of the integration policy is to ensure equal rights, obligations and opportunities for all, irrespective of their ethnic and cultural background” (Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality 2009).


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   Yes, although typically expressed in the language of "interculturalism".

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Multicultural principles have been integrated into Sweden’s school curriculum; this stems from the country’s emphasis on equality and the requirement that curriculum be in accordance with democratic principles (Mitchell and Salsbury 1996; National Agency for Education 2006). The focus has traditionally been on interculturalism and the learning and maintenance of heritage languages. Von Brömssen and Olgaç (2010) find the first reference to intercultural education in a 1983 official government report, suggesting that this policy direction has been long-standing. Nonetheless, some commentators note that there have more recently been some shifts away from “interculturalism” and toward a more “international” emphasis in education policy (Inglis 1997; Norberg 2000).
  • It is important to note that municipalities have responsibility for the schools within their jurisdictions, and there can thus be considerable variation in terms of programming and policies. This may include different teaching methods, ethnic/cultural orientations, or an emphasis on particular religious traditions (Ministry of Education and Research 2010). Nonetheless, municipalities must abide by some national standards, which are set by the Swedish National Agency for Education and are also outlined in the Education Act.
  • The curriculum guide produced by the National Agency for Education (2006, 3-4) notes “the internationalisation of Swedish society and increasing cross-border mobility place great demands on people’s ability to live together and appreciate the values that are to be found in cultural diversity. Awareness of one’s own cultural origins and sharing a common cultural heritage provides a secure identity which it is important to develop, together with the ability to empathise with the values and conditions of others.” Schools are thus tasked with teaching students not just about Swedish culture and heritage, but also developing an appreciation and understanding of other cultures.


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation / sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • Sveriges Television (SVT) is Sweden’s national public broadcaster. It is governed by the Broadcasting Charter and the Radio and Television Act.
  • The Radio and Television Act (1996) requires that “a person or entity that broadcasts television or sound radio programmes under a licence issued by the Government shall ensure that the overall programme services reflect the fundamental concepts of a democratic society, the principle that all persons are of equal value and the freedom and dignity of the individual.”
  • The act also includes a Broadcasting Charter, which requires SVT to “to reflect the many different cultures and cultural manifestations in Sweden.” SVT is required to “offer the general public events, concerts and other cultural activities from different cultural spheres, taking place throughout the nation.” It is also tasked with observing “the special needs of linguistic and cultural minorities” (Sveriges Television 2010).

4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 1

Evidence:

  • In 2005, the Swedish military granted a uniform exemption to Jaspal Singh, permitting him to wear his turban and maintain a long beard (Sikh Coalition 2005).
  • Since 2006, Swedish police officers have been allowed to wear turbans, headscarves and Jewish skull caps in place of the standard-issued cap (World Jewish Congress 2006).

5. Allows dual citizenship

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 1

Evidence:

  • Swedish citizenship is generally based on the principle of jus sanguinis, but acquisition of citizenship by foreign nationals is possible. Dual citizenship has been permitted since the passage of the Act on Swedish Citizenship in 2001 (Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality 2010).

6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The government has provided grants to immigrant and ethnic minority organizations for a long time; these have included subsidies to the ethnic press, to ethnic organizations, and to organizations working on integration issues (Camauër 2003; European Network Against Racism 2006).
  • In 2001, the government adopted a policy for non-governmental organizations and popular movements and noted that “people should have the best possible opportunities to organise themselves and take part in non-govern¬mental organisations (NGOs) and popular movements of various kinds” (Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality 2008, 1). Although the policy is somewhat imprecise, it does include grants to women’s organizations, for the securing of space for public meetings, for sport, and to organizations promoting outdoor activities. It is noted that grants are also available for projects related to culture, social policy and youth.
  • The MIPEX does find that immigrant organizations are provided funding from the national government, but these funds are not intended to specifically support ethnic activities. Rather, they are meant to support the organizations’ provision of advice to the government (Niessen et al. 2007).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Provisions for the teaching of mother tongue languages were enshrined in the 1977–1978 Home Language Reform. These stemmed from a commitment to freedom of choice, which was outlined in the 1975 multicultural policy (Huss 2001). A new language law was introduced in 2009. It stipulates that those with a mother tongue other than Swedish be given the opportunity to maintain and use that language, while also recognizing Swedish as the official language and providing supports for its learning and development (Ministry of Culture 2009).
  • In the national curriculum guidelines, schools are now instructed to ensure all students “learn to communicate in foreign languages” (National Agency for Education 2006). Further, the National Agency for Education identifies mother-tongue instruction as a defined subject area, noting the importance of developing mother-tongue fluency and supporting “multilingual individuals with a multicultural identity” (National Agency for Education 2000). It links the learning of one’s mother tongue with the learning of Swedish, as well as a means of connecting students to their cultural backgrounds.


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • In 2008, a new Anti-Discrimination Act was passed. It replaced the Equal Opportunities Act and six pieces of anti-discrimination legislation. In addition to combating discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability and sexual orientation, the new act adds transgender identity or expression and age as protected grounds. The act applies to the provision of education, social services, housing, consumer goods, and health care. It also extends protections to public appointments and the military and civil service, areas that were not previously covered (Human Rights 2010). The Office of the Ombudsman Against Discrimination oversees compliance with the act.
  • Although the act does not technically provide for a policy of affirmative action, it does protect against direct and indirect discrimination, the latter being defined as treatment in which “someone is disadvantaged by the application of a provision, a criterion or a procedure that appears neutral but that may put people of a certain sex, a certain transgender identity or expression, a certain ethnicity, a certain religion or other belief, a certain disability, a certain sexual orientation or a certain age at a particular disadvantage, unless the provision, criterion or procedure has a legitimate purpose and the means that are used are appropriate and necessary to achieve that purpose” (Anti-Discrimination Act 2008, section 4).
  • A 2005 report authored by a government-appointed commission on migrants’ access to power and influence recommended that an affirmative action policy be adopted and extended to immigrant-origin individuals, as well as other disadvantaged social groups. The report was criticized, however, with opponents portraying it as more ideological than factual (Westin 2006).
  • This may help explain why there is no real evidence of an affirmative action policy or plan for immigrant groups in Sweden (Diakité 2006, 11). In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. For example, in 2002, the City of Lund adopted a municipal Diversity Plan, which included a commitment to ensure immigrant-origin individuals filled 10 percent of the county’s jobs within five years. The plan was abandoned when it was found to contravene Swedish laws that prohibit against discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin (Diakité 2006).
  • Moreover, in 2010, the Swedish government announced that it would abolish an affirmative action program that previously allowed universities to favour applications from male students in disciplines where men tended to be under-represented. The policy had originally been adopted to achieve a balanced ratio of male and female students (The Local 2010).


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