Understanding Swedishness and Conceptualizing the Self: The Perspective of Young Women of Middle Eastern Backgrounds Living in Sweden "CANCELLED"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: Harbor Lounge A
Serine GUNNARSSON , Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Searching for a sense of belonging and defining one’s sense of self has become a complex task in this globalized world. The way we define ourselves, for instance along ethnic lines, has consequences for our understandings of others in our everyday lives. This presentation will depart from a project that uses semi-structured qualitative interviews – with 24 young women of Middle Eastern backgrounds aged 15-22 – to explore the ways in which identity can be constructed. The reason why these women’s identity is in focus is that they have been the subject of heated debates on honor related violence in the Swedish news media in recent years. Against this backdrop, questions about the implications of being regarded as ethnic ‘Others’ can be explored. In this presentation, the focus will be on social identity processes and the interplay between self- and public image, with specific regards to ethnic identity. The presentation will draw attention to the way in which understandings of Swedishness play a role in these women’s conceptualization of self. These understandings include, among others, assumptions regarding Swedish peers’ liberal approach to norms on sexuality and the informants’ relation to the Swedish society as a home, yet, not a ‘homeland’. As such, the presentation problematizes how sense of belonging and definitions of the self are constructed when identity is contested and negotiated in everyday life settings.