Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies

Multiculturalism Policies

in Contemporary Democracies

Multiculturalism Policies

in Contemporary Democracies

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Sweden

flag of Sweden
   
TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 3 3.5 5 7 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

    Recognition of cultural diversity and “interculturalism” but a reluctance to employ a framework of “multiculturalism.” Various instruments and institutional entities address issues related to integration, inclusion, and interculturalism.

   
Affirmation Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 1 1 1

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.). As Tawat (2018) summarizes, “Swedish policy has amounted to the celebration of difference, the idea that immigrants’ happiness depends on the possibility of enjoying their cultures (cultural embeddedness) and that ethnocultural diversity is enriching for the majority culture.” 
  • 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 was not a government ministry responsible for multiculturalism, per se, the Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality oversaw issues related to integration and anti-discrimination until it was dissolved in 2014. 
  • Since then, integration is intended to be mainstreamed across all policy areas, and a particular focus has emerged around immigrants’ integration in the labour market (European Commission 2019h). When it comes to integration policies, “emphasis is put on ensuring equal rights, obligations and opportunities for all, irrespective of ethnic and cultural backgrounds” (Ibid). Sweden ranked first of 38 countries in the 2015 Migrant Integration Policy Index for its integration policies (Huddleston et al. 2015). 

 

2. THE ADOPTION OF MULTICULTURALISM IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM

    Some recent evidence of a shift toward intercultural pedagogy, although not without controversy.

   
School Curriculum Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0.5 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).
  • A 1985 report called for an intercultural perspective to be included in teacher education. But implementation of this was slow (Norberg 2000, 517).
  • The Swedish curriculum included culturally diverse education in 1994 at the high school level, and in 1998 at the primary school level (von Bromssen et al. 2010, 122).
  • 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 (2010) notes “The internationalization of Swedish society and the growing mobility across national borders place high demands on people's ability to live with and realize the values ​​that lie in cultural diversity. The school is a social and cultural meeting place, which has both an opportunity and a responsibility to strengthen this ability in everyone who works there… The school must contribute to students gaining an identity that can be related to not only the specifically Swedish but also the Nordic, the European and ultimately the global [community].” Schools are thus tasked with teaching students not just about Swedish culture and heritage, but also developing an appreciation and understanding of other cultures.
  • Since 2013, Sweden has also granted undocumented migrants under 18 access to education up to the upper secondary level, including upper secondary vocational training (Swedish Schools Inspectorate 2013). Municipal authorities are tasked with informing newcomers about their rights to education and to host welcome meetings with migrant families, where interpreting services are available in any language. Web services and education resources for parents are also available in multiple languages (Huddleston et al. 2015).

 

3. THE INCLUSION OF ETHNIC REPRESENTATION/SENSITIVITY IN THE MANDATE OF PUBLIC MEDIA OR MEDIA LICENSING

    Yes.

   
Media Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 1 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; Yoshiko 2009).
  • The SVT mandate is to “serve the interests of the population in all parts of the country” (Cullen International 2019). Public service broadcasting in Sweden maintains an obligation to “produce news and programs in minority languages and to serve the immigrants in Sweden with necessary information in their own languages” (European Commission 2012, 8). Although SVT has increased the airtime hours for some minority languages since 2013, the Swedish Media Inquiry suggested more airtime should be given to the most popular immigrant languages, such as Arabic, Serbo-Croatian, Kurdish, and Persian (Färdigh 2016). 

 

4. EXEMPTIONS FROM DRESS CODES (EITHER BY STATUTE OR COURT CASES)

    Yes.

   
Exemption Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 1 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 skullcaps in place of the standard-issued cap (World Jewish Congress 2006).
  • Despite the 38 proposals for bans against the burqa and niqab that have emerged since 2002, there are currently no national restrictions on religious face coverings at this time (Frisk and Gillette 2019; Open Society Justice Initiative 2018). 
  • In accordance with official guidelines from the National Agency for Education, schools have autonomy over decisions pertaining to religious dress, including headscarves and veils (Frisk and Gillette 2019; Open Society Justice Initiative 2018). In 2019, a ban on headscarves in primary schools for girls under the age of 13 was implemented in the town of Staffanstorp (de Seini 2019), and the municipality of Skurup approved a bill banning “all forms of Muslim headgear” in primary schools and preschools (quoted in Nabbout 2020). 

 

5. ALLOWS DUAL CITIZENSHIP

    Yes.

   
Dual Citizenship Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 1 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 (Government of Sweden 2018).

 

6. THE FUNDING OF ETHNIC GROUP ORGANIZATIONS OR ACTIVITIES

    Yes.

   
Funding Ethnic Groups Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The introduction of cultural freedom of choice as a principle for immigrant integration in 1975 made funding for cultural activities available to a large number of ethnic minority organizations (Knocke and Ng 1999, 100). The government has provided grants to immigrant and ethnic minority organizations for a long time (Skodo 2018; Tawat 2018); 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).
  • Since 1999, the Swedish Council for Cultural Affairs has given support to publishing done by new immigrant groups (Camauër 2003, 76).
  • The Cooperation Group for Ethnical Associations in Sweden (SIOS) receives government funding to support associations (Huddleston et al. 2015). The SIOS “consists of voluntary associations of recognized and non-recognized minorities who, in collaboration with all democratic forces in Sweden, want to work for a multicultural society with the task of pursuing language, culture, education and other minority policy issues that are common to the members” (SIOS 2020). 
  • The Swedish Inheritance Fund supports an array of non-governmental organizations and projects, particularly those geared toward promoting equality, integration, diversity, and accessibility (European Commission 2019h). 

 

7. THE FUNDING OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION OR MOTHER TONGUE INSTRUCTION

Yes.

   
Bilingual Education Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 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). This is similarly ascribed in the 2010 update to the Education Act (Skollag, Section 12) which stipulates that “if a student in education at the basic level or in special education at the basic level has deficient knowledge of the Swedish language, the education may be provided in the student's mother tongue or another language that the student is fluent in. Such education must be supplemented with teaching or training in the Swedish language” (Ministry of Education 2010c). 
  • In October 1990, 65% of students who spoke a minority language at home were enrolled in a minority language program (Vermeulen 1997,88).
  • 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 2008, 32). 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. Along with mother tongue instruction, students also learn about the history, traditions, culture, and social life of their home country (Huddleston et al. 2015). 

 

8. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR DISADVANTAGED IMMIGRANT GROUPS

   No.

   
Affirmative Action Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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. The Office of the Ombudsman Against Discrimination oversees compliance with the act (Ministry of Culture 2015).
  • 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).
  • In some cases, quotas for hiring ethnic minorities have been found to be in contravention of laws prohibiting discrimination. 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 discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin (Diakité 2006, 5-6). 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).
  • 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).